The Rec and Read/Indigenous Youth Mentor Programs for All Nations is a culturally based community sport, physical activity and recreation program for Indigenous youth and young people living in diverse communities. In the urban Winnipeg programs, university and community mentors work with junior high/high school mentors to plan and deliver a weekly after school sport, nutrition, and education program for early years students during the school year (October to March). In the northern, rural and remote IYMP programs, a Young Adult Health Leader supports the high school mentors to develop and deliver the after school programming for early years children in their community with a particular focus on diabetes prevention and resilience.
This collaborative and multi-age approach to program planning and delivery ensures that Rec and Read/IYMP taps into and nurtures the leadership and physical literacy skills of youth from diverse populations. Informed by Indigenous worldviews and practices, the mentor programs help create safe, relevant and meaningful physical activity spaces for Indigenous youth and young people living in diverse communities to rediscover the joy of movement and to share this experience by becoming sport, physical activity and recreation leaders in their community.
Currently, Rec and Read is offered in 13 Winnipeg schools and 13 diverse Indigenous communities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
In the urban context, Rec and Read helps develop culturally responsive sport leaders that can plan and facilitate relevant and meaningful programs for all youth. Since 2006, over 2,761 high school, junior high school and elementary students and 246 university students and community mentors have participated in the urban Rec and Read program, which is run by the University of Manitoba Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management working in partnership with schools in the Seven Oaks, Winnipeg and St. James School Divisions.
In the northern, rural and remote context, IYMP has grown incrementally. It was introduced in one northern Manitoba community in 2010 and is now offered in seven Indigenous communities throughout the province. Since expanding to five provinces in 2016, IYMP has been guided by the voices of community members through annual regional and national gatherings. These gatherings promote land-based activities, physical activity, connections with Elders/Knowledge Keepers and fostering a sense of belonging among Indigenous youth. In northern, rural and remote IYMP programs, the focus on diabetes prevention has been promising; community-based research has demonstrated that the peer mentoring programs mitigate risk factors for diabetes for Indigenous children (see Eskiciolgou et al., 2014).
In 2014, Rec and Read/IYMP was awarded the prestigious international MacJannet Prize for exceptional community-university engagement initiatives.
The development of the mentor programs has been supported by national research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.
For more information, contact: Heather.McRae@umanitoba.ca
Visit the Indspire site detailing the successes of the Rec and Read Program
For more information about this program, have a look at this video: