The Hub August 2017 - Page 29

I n 2015, a student working with the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative named Julie Legg wanted to bring barrier-free sport opportunities to the DWCC-priority neighbourhoods and provide an opportunity for everyone to play sports, regardless of barriers they might face. Through a two-year funding grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in April of 2015, Legg launched the barrier-free sports initiative. In those two years, Legg organized activities ranging from walking clubs to swimming, to working out in the gym and even horseshoes. Today, the DWCC continues Legg’s early efforts with the new Sport 4 All program, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation from 2017-2020. The program is a reflection of Legg’s work but now expands into three more neighbourhoods: Our West End, Glengary-Marentette and Ford City. The program goals remain the same: encourage all ages to be involved in physical activity while tearing down barriers within sports. “We try to break down the barriers whether it’s cost, skill levels...we make it accessible for people to get here if there’s an issue, ” says John Thompson, Sport Director for Sport 4 All. “It is a physical fitness opportunity for people that maybe do not have those opportunities.” From its beginnings in 2010, the DWCC has always tried to find new and creative ways to engage and build a healthy network of people within the community. It has focused on making the city of Windsor a good place to grow up and a good place to grow old. Over the past two years, Thompson has been actively involved with DWCC through his passions, sports and gardening. Thompson filled in as the community development coordinator and volunteered his time for a while thereafter. He began to meet locals around the neighbourhoods and build relationships with organizations around the city. He noted neighbourhood challenges that go beyond sports, but certainly affect opportunity and participation. “There’s crime in the neighbourhood, there’s a lot of absent landlords, vacant buildings, and thing like that,” said the aggravated Thompson. Visibly frustrated as we sat on a bench in Bruce Park, Thompson said it is tough to attract people to a park when it gets mistreated. “I’ve come to the park before and on this very picnic table there was blood and needles. The fact it was there makes you want to shy away from this park.” Thompson said the issue is everywhere. “Even if you’re in a ‘great neighbourhood’ there will be challenges there too. Sports are just a great way to connect with people. I find sports are healing and therapeutic.” David Oriet, 29, was born and raised in Windsor. Every Monday, he looks forward to playing hockey at the Windsor Water World site because it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and connect. Oriet takes the time every Monday night to help others grow as hockey players and great individuals. “I think it’s imperative to have these opportunities for kids and adults to play sports and experience what it’s like to be a part of a team and to do so at no cost. I’m so appreciative that DWCC makes this available to us every week and I’m thankful for the hospitality shown every