The John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) – Cornerstone Program wishes to thank SaskOutdoors and SaskLotteries for the $500.00 grant received. This grant has allowed youth in Regina the opportunity to discover new and exciting ways to engage with nature. Although the goal was to participate in the Lumsden Day Camp, upon registering the camp days were full. JHSS knew that the youth needed an experience to look forward too. Upon research, JHSS discovered that Regina Beach had an inflatable sport activity center on the water. The opportunity to reserve two separate visits was available and the adventures were booked, August 20 and August 23, 2019. August 20 occurred but a rescheduling from the 23 to the 29 to September 2 was needed, due to weather.
The challenges of the project focused mainly on the need to find a different activity. JHSS researched many alternatives to give the youth opportunities to experience a safe, engaging day of teamwork, peer support and fun. Finding events that can be inclusive for all of the youth can be challenging. Many of our youth have issues that can make participating in dynamic events difficult to impossible. Some of the challenges that the youth confront include, having an acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy, Obesity, mental health issues, parent loss, addictions, childhood trauma and members of the LGBTQ2S+ Community. While these challenges can make developing an inclusive event difficult, the trip to Regina Beach allowed all of these youth the ability to participate fully in the event.
This event gave the youth motivation to engage in the tasks of swimming, climbing, jumping, and running. In doing so, the youth confronted their personal struggles and defied their own personal expectations. Sharing a meal and socializing with all the diverse individuals opened up different conversations and an understanding for all the participants. They shared:
“With all my disabilities, I had fun and it was a new challenge for me.”
“Earth gives us so many beautiful things to create and see.”
“Spending time with people was nice.”
“Having fun and being inclusive.”
“Savoring the moments of summer.”
Thanks to SaskOutdoors and SaskLotteries, we were able to take youth from Robert’s Place, Lulu’s Lodge, Supportive Independent Living Program (SILP) and other JHSS programs, to Regina Beach to experience and engage in activities within nature. This opportunity allowed the youth to feel the positive influence that a natural setting provides by playing in the sand, swimming and playing in the water, collecting rocks, building sand castles and having a picnic. Engaging in activities such as swimming, climbing, jumping and running, youth were challenging themselves in constructive and collaborative ways while on the Aquatic Adventures. This activity was beneficial to the youth’s physical, emotional, and mental health in various ways. For many of the youth, this was their first time being able to partake in the activity of inflatable sport activity center on water. Without this grant, many of these youth may have never had the opportunity to engage in activities of this kind. This activity was a great experience for the youth and we are very grateful to SaskOutdoors and SaskLotteries for providing us with the opportunity.