A Nelson Circus Performers’ student using an aerial silks rig. (Louis Bockner)

A Nelson Circus Performers’ student using an aerial silks rig. (Louis Bockner)

Columbia Basin Trust gives over $500,000 in PLAYS Capital Improvement Grants

34 projects funded to get kids active

Kids from ʔakisq̓nuk to Ymir will be getting active and gaining new skills.

Whether it’s playing indoor soccer, shooting hoops, learning archery or doing aerial acrobatics, children and youth will be growing their confidence and getting healthier thanks to 34 projects receiving over $500,000 from Columbia Basin Trust’s Basin PLAYS Capital Improvement Grants.

“By building young peoples’ knowledge and competency in physical activity and sport, we are investing in their future,” says Aimee Ambrosone, Columbia Basin Trust director for Delivery of Benefits. “Supporting our children and youth to be active and healthy will inspire them to participate in healthy active living throughout their lives.”

The Basin PLAYS (Physical Literacy and Youth Sport) initiative helps the trust deliver on one of its strategic priorities to support physical activity and recreation.

Like any type of competency, physical literacy requires opportunities to explore, learn, practice and grow skill-sets. The PLAYS Capital Improvement Grants support projects that expand inclusive opportunities for children and youth to access a range of recreation and sport activities.

The Nelson Circus Performers Association offers a unique recreation experience for children and youth.

With support from the trust, the group will purchase three free-standing aerial silks rigs, which will allow children and youth to gain skills while also building an equally important attribute for young people: confidence. The rigs are portable and will enable the organization to travel to communities around Nelson to deliver their classes.

“Learning the circus arts, including aerial acrobatics, is an incredible way to increase strength and balance; kids love it,” says Phill Maher, a member of the Nelson Circus Performers Association. “It helps them learn to trust their abilities and parents see an increase in self-confidence from kids who’ve participated.”

Sometimes a community has an affinity for a particular sport, but they just need the right facility.

When Youth Network Coordinator Joni Laberge surveyed Sparwood youth about preferred activities, 103 out of 181 said archery.

Trust funds will help build an archery range that can host sanctioned events. With several certified archery coaches in Sparwood’s Fish and Wildlife Association, there is also the potential to support junior Olympic training.

“We are an outdoors-loving community and it made sense that archery was high on the list,” said Laberge. “Our local rifle range has accommodated use of their facility for archery, but it’s outside of the community, and only available once a week. Now we have available land and tons of community support; we are very excited about this new potential for youth.”

With a successful project under their belt, the Ymir Community Association saw an opportunity to create a new multi-use outdoor court for recreation activities like basketball, volleyball and pickle-ball, and skating in the winter.

“We all got together to build a skate park a few years ago, but we wanted to add an additional space that could accommodate other activities. We noticed kids playing basketball more often on the street and decided we needed to provide them a safe venue,” said Isabelle Herzig, community member. “It will be incredible to have this facility in our small community where kids can play outside.”

ʔakisq̓nuk’s new Columbia Lake Recreation Centre is nearing completion and will include sports and recreation equipment funded by the trust. Portable basketball nets, floor hockey nets and goalie protective equipment, table tennis tables, bleachers, benches and score boards are some of the equipment that will help establish community programming for the new facility, and also allow them to host small to medium-sized youth tournaments.

“We’ll set up a variety of equipment each evening and let community members try everything out. This will help us determine scheduling and the types of recreation and sports activities that are being embraced by the community’s youth,” said Bryan Armstrong, Recreation Centre Coordinator for ʔakisq̓nuk. “Everyone’s eyes are being opened to what is possible and the ways we can improve our youth’s health and quality of life though sport.”

The Basin PLAYS initiative also offers training grants for organizations that want to host an accredited sport training program or attend training. Visit ourtrust.org/traininggrants for more information.


Sparwood youth archery participant. (Jacqueline Manderson)

Sparwood youth archery participant. (Jacqueline Manderson)