As we celebrate an historic Olympic medal haul by our Canadian athletes, and on the eve of the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games, I want to celebrate our community’s long tradition of active living and excellence in sport. After all, Delta has produced an impressive number of Olympians and Paralympians, including recent Rio athletes Mark Pearson, Max Lattimer, Marcus Thornmeyer and Brendan Hodge.
When my husband Eron and I chose to raise our family in Ladner, we did so because Delta has a strong sense of community. For our family, it was also important that our children have access to good quality sport and recreation.
Delta is a community with a long tradition of both active living and sport excellence. Families can enrol their children in a variety of sport and recreational activities, and we have a strong network of clubs and competitive opportunities in many sports. We have great coaches, and a solid foundation of playing fields and facilities.
Like in many communities, there is a tension in Delta between active living, recreation, and participation-focused activities, and competitive or more high-performance sport. I am absolutely convinced these two are not at odds. In fact, a healthy, thriving community will offer both kinds of opportunities to its children and youth. We can provide inclusive physical activity opportunities for all, while creating the conditions for excellence for those with Olympic- or Paralympic-sized dreams.
It starts with physical literacy, or fundamental movement skills. This means quality daily physical activity in schools. We know active kids do better in school, and that there is a proven link between physical activity and improved health. Kids who get an active start in life usually stay active for life.
Experiences also need to be positive — and fun. The values of fairness, respect and inclusion must be embedded into programming and coaching. At the same time, we can always be striving for excellence, and discovering how good we can be.
Perhaps nowhere is this tension more apparent then in our discussions around facilities and fields. Our kids need safe, welcoming and accessible places to play and compete. They also need facilities that meet the technical needs of their sports.
Add to this a growing concern that families are moving away from Delta due to a lack of programming or competitive opportunities in certain sports, and that our recreational sport enthusiasts have to go to other communities to pursue many sport passions that used to be available locally.
I believe there is more that we can do. I have met with many groups who have a bigger vision for Delta and want to bring our community sport and recreation amenities to the next level.
Our local organizations are coming together to find creative solutions. Our swim clubs and field hockey teams are but two examples of the hard work being done to address our community’s pressing needs. The work being done to update our tracks in both North Delta and South Delta is also a great example of partnership. A lot of private money is being raised to support these efforts.
Today, my call to you is that we all work together to take Delta to the next level. As the city and province identify priorities for the federal government’s $1.3 billion Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure funding, let’s make sure that Delta gets its fair share.
As we raise money and make plans, let’s share ideas and collaborate. Let’s dream big. For my part, I will continue to work with organizations that want to advance a broader discussion on community needs and priorities. My door is always open.
Article also found in the Delta Optimist.