Below is a letter from the Curriculum Coordinator at Edith Rogers School where, thanks to the Stollery Charitable Foundation, we were able to host a football program.
The first year of the Touchdown Club football league was a great success! This program aimed to provide kids in Junior High the Mill Woods community with a chance to play tackle football in a safe, welcoming, developmental environment. Thanks to the overwhelming financial support from the Stollery Charitable Foundation and the support of Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters to host the program, it provided exactly what it set out to.
There were 70 participants in the program who attend Junior High school in the Mill Woods community spread among 4 teams. We held tryouts at the four hosting schools in early April as there were more kids interested than the program could accommodate. In total, approximately 150 youth tried out for the program. There were very few players who had ever played tackle football before so it was a new and exciting opportunity for most of the players and the energy was palpable right from the first day they got to pick up their equipment.
Many parents and families came out to watch the practices and the games; I was told by a number of the coaches that they had never seen that level of parental involvement at any school event. For instance, we knew that two different sets of parents were unable to attend parent-teacher interviews several years in a row, but they made sure to show up at each and every football game to support their children. This was a great source of pride for the program.
Perhaps the most important success that I experienced in running the program was to hear the impact that it had on students in school and in particular, students who struggled in the classroom. There were numerous occasions this year where I was told by my colleagues how much the players had changed since they began playing. Things like increased attention and more focus during class time, increased positivity with teachers and peers and a substantial decrease in the number of behavioral issues on a daily basis. The players themselves also commented almost daily how much fun they were having playing and how much they learned throughout each practice and game. And for the coaches, the improvement of skills and knowledge from the first week to the last was incredible and a testament to the passion and commitment from the players.
Many of the staff at each school as well as some of their parents has ideas on how to raise the funds needed each year in order to make this program self-sustaining. However, thanks to the generosity of the Stollery Charitable Foundation’s we were able to purchase all the of the equipment necessary which means the costs moving forward are minimal.
Overall, the first year was a wonderful success and we are already looking forward to making next year even better. Thank you to the Stollery Charitable Foundation for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Joel Stephens, Curriculum Coordinator
Edith Rogers School