Exploring sport in Gander

Kids from 10 schools convene to learn about healthy living

Published on June 19, 2017

Members of the Gander Lakers demonstrated the benefits of swimming over the weekend, setting up a simulation tub in the middle of the Steele Community Centre.

©Josh Healey/The Beacon

Kids could try it all at Sportfest in Gander this past weekend: hockey, swimming, tennis and at least another dozen activities.

“The whole concept is around getting kids more active in our province. We had about 17 different activities and sports for them to try,” said Troy Croft, Executive Director of SportNL.

Multiple stations were set up in the Steele Community Centre and showcased everything from gymnastics to parasports. Children were encouraged to try as many booths as possible to show the diversity of sport and Croft said that the booths allowed kids to explore in a non-competitive environment.

Although Sportfest has been active for years, this marked the first time it had been hosted in Central Newfoundland, with over 10 schools from across the region convening for the event.

Croft said Sportfest is one way to make children more aware of healthy living, especially given the province’s childhood obesity numbers.

“The stats come out every year and we’re consistently at the bottom,” he said.

Derek Bennett, the MHA for Lewisporte-Twillingate, was in attendance and said he was pleased to have the event in Gander.

“I think it’s extremely important to get this out to more rural areas,” said Bennett. “It gets people good exposure to these activities and hopefully people will bring these back to their communities.”

Bennett, who previously was a recreation director in Lewisporte, highlighted that many of the activities require very little equipment and that anybody can be active.

Sportfest also had a few special guests moving between stations: Canadian Olympians.

Despite the limited space, Sportfest managed to set up dozens of activities for kids to try. In this picture, a student lines up a shot on the golf range.
Josh Healey/The Beacon

Luke Demetre, a bobsledder, and curler Jamie Korab went beyond their respective sports and joined the children in games of basketball and hockey.

Snowboarder Calynn Irwin, an Olympic hopeful, also joined the group and noted the importance of getting kids active at a young age.

“It’s really important, especially at this age. This is where you start playing around,” said Irwin.

Irwin highlighted that being active changer her life and that you never know where your interests will lead you.

“Sports have changed my life in so many ways. I’ve gotten to travel the world, I’ve learned leadership and I’ve experienced hardships,” said Irwin.

Twitter: @joshrjhealey