Aboriginal Youth First Sports and Recreation Program

Organization Sponsor: Urban Native Youth Association


Program Description

The goal of the Aboriginal Youth First Sports and Recreation Program is to develop and deliver a diverse range of sports and recreation activities that encourage Native youth in East Vancouver to be active, participate in skills training, make positive life choices, and develop their leadership skills.

Our focus is on developing programming with youth and removing barriers to support the participation of all Native youth, particularly those who are not currently active. We aim to strengthen resiliency amongst youth, their families, and the community by increasing awareness and knowledge, and fostering youth skills and leadership development.

UNYA is a registered not-for-profit society

Funding Sources: 

Currently, the Aboriginal Youth First Sports and Recreation Program receives funding from the N7 Fund (Nike) and the BC Sport Participation Program, administered by the BC Sport Agency (formerly 2010 Legacies Now).

Strategies For Sustainability: 

Our discussions with community organizations include fostering partnerships that provide as much free space, coaching, and sports activities as possible. We maintain this approach so that we can provide as much programming to as many youth as possible within the funding limitations of this program. The AYF team continues to focus on developing and maintaining diverse community partnerships to increase and enhance opportunities for Native youth to take part in sports and rec activities throughout East Vancouver.

Impact Of Program: 

All of the activities were well attended by youth and supported by our many partners. In particular, we are very proud of our success in the following areas:

Balanced mix of drop-in, structured and competitive activities, as well as one-time, occasional, and ongoing activities
Certified skill-building activities that had 260 youth participate, with 200 certificates awarded. Many youth used their newly acquired skills to become Peer Mentors for the program.
Partnership with 52 community organizations, groups and individuals
Creation of a program logo by a Native youth
3,397 youth accessing the program
Introducing youth to new activities such as canoeing, capoeira, boxing, snowboarding, rock climbing, parent/tot swims, triathlon, Vancouver Sun Run, cultural activities, skills building camps, and weight training
Co-founding partner for the community based National Aboriginal Day Celebration at Trout Lake
Doing all this with only 2.5 staff
As of 2011, we have over twenty programs, over one hundred volunteers, almost 100 full and part-time staff, and 200+ community partners. Our annual operating budget is approximately $4.5 million.

Evaluation Tools: 

A formal program evaluation was completed at the end of a three-year pilot program, and showed an overwhelming demand for sports and recreation activities for Native youth in East Vancouver

Key Elements Towards Success: 

We work in collaboration with youth and a broad range of community partners to host a wide range of sports and recreation activities, and encourage youth to access a wide range of programs, in and near East Vancouver.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

In our initial years of operation, our team worked very hard to introduce as many activities as possible to encourage youth participation and partnership development. This work helped us to identify which programs to continue to focus on. We continue to increase our efforts to help youth develop and utilize their leadership skills, gain certifications, and focus on health and nutrition. We also strive to ensure that we are providing a good mix of programming in various areas to meet the needs of our diverse youth population. We are seeking long-term, sustainable funding for the program.

Length and Stage of Project: 

UNYA was formed in 1988 to address Native youth issues when growing numbers of young people began leaving reserves for the city.

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