RCMP and Sport Central help kids through sport


Summer got a little bit brighter for the kids in Little Red River Cree Nation. Thanks to an ongoing community partnership with the RCMP and Sport Central, the remote community of Fox Lake recently welcomed over $10,000 in new and refurbished sports equipment for local children and youth — with everything from balls and nets, to bicycles and ball hockey equipment, and all the protective gear to keep kids safe.

RCMP, Sport Central and Alberta's Promise help load up an RCMP truck with sports equipment for kids. (L-R) Nathan Cross, Alberta's Promise; Sheldon Oleksyn, Sport Central; Wilf Brooks, Premier's Council on Alberta's Promise.
RCMP, Sport Central and Alberta’s Promise help load up an RCMP truck with sports equipment for kids. (L-R) Nathan Cross, Alberta’s Promise; Sheldon Oleksyn, Sport Central; Wilf Brooks, Premier’s Council on Alberta’s Promise.

High Level Detachment Commander Peter Pilgrim has been a big champion of Sport Central – a charity which gathers and distributes recycled sports equipment to children in need. With over 23 years at the RCMP, Peter knows the importance of getting young people involved in activities that build self-esteem and connection to community. The community outreach made possible by Sport Central was a valuable opportunity Peter and his team could not pass up: to reach out to kids and change lives through sport.

Peter encouraged his staff to get involved and become champions for the communities they served. “It’s your community wherever you are. Be part of it because it can only be better by you taking an active role,” says Peter. Constable Joel Turcotte responded by championing the donation in Fox Lake. In the true spirit of partnership, Little Red River Cree Nation and United Cycle contributed $1000 apiece to purchase the new equipment worth well over $3500, Sport Central donated the remaining refurbished equipment, and in-kind support was provided by the RCMP and Manitoulin Transport to move equipment from Edmonton to the Peace Region.

The Fox Lake partnership, and many others like it, was the brainchild of Wilf Brooks, co-owner of United Cycle and one of the many founders of Sport Central, and Marianne Ryan, Commanding Officer of RCMP K Division — both members of the Premier’s Council on Alberta’s Promise. When they met in late 2014, the question they asked one another was simple: how could the two organizations collaborate to support the needs of children and youth across Alberta? Building communities through sport seemed like a great place to start.

Despite the flurry of activity with Sport Central, Peter is quick to point out that community-based policing is nothing new. The RCMP has always worked closely with community partners to impact the underlying social conditions that may lead to crime. Recreational programs have been wise investments to help kids and youth develop healthy relationships and become well-adjusted members of the community. As noted by Commanding Officer Ryan, “Engaging, inspiring and mentoring youth in our communities is rewarding for everyone.  I am proud that our RCMP members have the opportunity to be a part of Sport Central, and the meaningful initiatives and opportunities that have resulted for our community’s youth.”

And what a meaningful initiative it has been! Over the past six months, the RCMP and Sport Central partnership has resulted in over $250,000 worth of sports equipment flowing into the Peace Region, “and we’re still in the beginning stages,” says Peter. With the help of local sponsors and partners, including the Hockey Alberta Foundation, the hope is create a community leadership group willing to partner with Sport Central and positively impact every child in the community.

To support sports partnerships like these, cash and sport equipment donations are collected by Sport Central at 11847 Wayne Gretzky Drive Northwest in Edmonton. Volunteers are also dearly needed to pick up equipment from drop stations, fix bikes, and fit kids for their equipment. To find out how your organization can partner with others to make great things happen for Alberta’s children and youth, contact Alberta’s Promise at info@albertaspromise.org.