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Program allows girls to swing into action.

CALGARY

The Calgary Aboriginal Friendship Centre will be teeing off this spring with a new youth golf program for 30 Aboriginal girls called Swing into Action.

The unique recreational opportunity will start this February and run for a total of 11 weeks. The first three weeks of the program will consist of cultural awareness, healthy living and nutrition workshops, with the final eight weeks providing participants with a basic introduction to the game of golf.

The team leader for the program is Stephanie Hawking-Evans, Swing into Action is her first project with the Calgary Friendship Centre, one that she has been working on since August and is now very happy see it come to life.

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Hawking-Evans has been involved with sports her entire life and is a champion bowler. She hopes the program will encourage Aboriginal girls to seek out physical activity and practice healthy eating and nutrition.

Hawking-Evans said she chose golf as the sport to build the program around "to increase the participation of Aboriginal women in the game of golf as it is widely played and enjoyed in the Aboriginal business community."

Hawking-Evans believes having basic knowledge of golf will allow the young women participating in the program to take part in golf tournaments, which, in turn, are a form of community networking and partnership building.

Another reason the program is being offered is to help address the problem of bullying that exists among youth in many urban and rural communities. Hawking-Evans hopes all the girls participating in the program will be part of a buddy system that will encourage positive relationships and interactions and give the girls an opportunity to build their social skills by helping and encouraging one another as they all experience the game of golf.

Swing into Action potentially has three Aboriginal female golfers waiting in the tee box to serve as mentors and instructors to program participants, including Addie Veden, a member of the Okanagan Nation and a pro golfer. Veden plans to speak to participants about her experiences in golf and about how being involved in a sport such as golf has inspired her and has brought good things to her life.

Hawking-Evans also hopes to have a female golfer from the Mohawk Nation who won a medal at last year's North American Indigenous Games in Denver to speak to participants via a Web broadcast, but she is still working to secure volunteers and mentors for the program.

The Swing into Action program is being funded through Team Spirit: Aboriginal Girls in Sport, a project of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity and the Aboriginal Sport Circle designed to create opportunities for Aboriginal girls and women to get involved in sport at the community level. Other partners in the program include the Calgary Foundation, Eaglequest Calgary, where the skills portion of the program will be held, and the Alberta Golf Association, which will be supplying instruction manuals to program participants.

Hawking-Evans is hoping to solidify more funding so the program can supply healthy snacks and more equipment to participants, and so that Swing into Action can branch out to all friendship centres across Canada. She hopes other friendship centres will reach out to local golf organizations and clubs to assist in developing their own Aboriginal youth golf program. "This can definitely work," she said.

The expectation of this two-year project is simple--that young Aboriginal women will have some fun experiencing a new extra-curricular activity as well as improve their self-esteem. The participants probably won't become pro golfers, but then again you never know.

For more information about the Swing into Action program call Hawking-Evans at (403) 270-7379.

By Donna McCorrister-Beyer

Windspeaker Writer
COPYRIGHT 2007 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:sports
Author:McCorrister-Beyer, Donna
Publication:Windspeaker
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:620
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