'They can offer so much': Program empowers newcomers through sport
Winnipeg Newcomer Sport Academy gives newcomers opportunities to learn, play sports
For three years, the Winnipeg Newcomer Sport Academy has been bringing newcomer youth together through sport in order to help them find a sense of belonging in their new communities.
On Monday, the organization teamed up with others to host an afternoon of sports at the University of Winnipeg Rec Plex.
The organization was founded in 2016, shortly after the first influx of Syrian refugees began settling in Canada, in order to give newcomer youth opportunities to participate in sport.
Its founder, Carolyn Truno, said it's been extremely rewarding to watch kids who have participated in the program go on to join teams in their neighborhood.
"This is fantastic because this is an opportunity for the children to meet other Canadians, but also for Canadians to meet newcomers," she said.
"It's very powerful in terms of reducing discrimination, reducing racism, just getting to know each other a little bit better and through sport that we do that."
The program takes place twice a week and introduces newcomers to a variety of sports, from soccer to fencing to ice skating.
On Monday, Samira Jahmoun and Fatima Mostafa, both originally from Syria, were playing soccer together.
The two girls go to the same school, but had never talked to each other before taking part in Winnipeg Newcomer Sport Academy programs.
"She was at my school but I was not like really talking to her because she was not in my class," Jahmoun said.
"But when I came here I saw her and she was so nice, and then I started talking to her and she's my friend."
It's very rewarding to see the kids who come from different backgrounds start come out of their shell, develop friendships, and eventually empower them to share their stories, said Izzy Hawamda, a volunteer with Winnipeg Newcomer Sport Academy.
"Refugees come to Winnipeg through a lot of hardships of course, but they can offer so much to the city of Winnipeg," he said.
"They can offer stories, narrative, empowerment, strength, and these programs and others like this program can bring these strengths and these elements out, and hopefully have the broader Winnipeg community see how beautiful these cultures are."
With files from Cory Funk