Dynamic Opportunities For Youth

Dynamic Opportunities For Youth

May 27, 2005 10:56 ET

Dynamic Opportunities for Youth: National Youth Program Celebrates Five Years of Success

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - May 27, 2005) -

Started in Victoria, Olympians turn lessons of sport into life lessons for more than 1600 youth

What started out an idea by a small group of Olympic rowers in Victoria to create something positive in response to the senseless murder of a teenager, has grown into an award-winning national program that shares the lessons of sport with youth at risk across Canada.

Dynamic Opportunities for Youth, produced by the GO Rowing & Padding Association and sponsored by Dynamic Mutual Funds, celebrates its fifth-anniversary season this year with an event featuring Olympic rowers Silken Laumann, David Calder and many others. Since it was launched nationally in 2001, the program has provided a positive outlet for change for more than 1600 youth at risk across the country.

"Many young people have yet to discover that exercise can lift our spirits and increase our energy levels; they have not yet found a passion, something that sparks excitement and offers a sense of renewal and opportunity. This program emerged as one way to positively reach out to young people who too often fall through the cracks," said Laumann, four-time Olympian and the national ambassador for the program. "By necessity, rowing has the ability to impart great life lessons such as team work, trust, perseverance, and self-worth, and it is one way for athletes to give back."

Laumann, with the help of other Olympic and national team rowers, developed the idea for the rowing program in response to the murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk by fellow classmates in 1997. Virk was drowned in Victoria's Gorge Waterway near the rowing centre where Laumann and her team-mates trained. A pilot program started in Victoria the next year and was rolled out across the country in 2001, thanks to the support of Dynamic Mutual Funds.

Through the program, youth considered disadvantaged and at-risk have the chance to spend five weeks in a rowing scull, learning how dedication and teamwork can relate to positive change in life. The free 10-session learn-to-row training program focuses on the themes of self-esteem, teamwork, discipline, personal challenge, goal setting and fair play.

Investing in our youth is key to making our communities stronger," says Trevor Hampden, spokesperson for Dynamic Mutual Funds. "The Dynamic family understands the importance of partnerships in our communities, and we are proud of our role in helping to develop the character of young people through the Dynamic Opportunities for Youth program."

In 2005, Dynamic Opportunities for Youth will see more than 600 youth participate at 18 rowing clubs in 17 communities from coast-to-coast, including one new program starting this year in St. John's, Newfoundland. That's up five-fold from 172 youth in 9 communities in 2001.

Communities where the program will run this year include Victoria; Langford, B.C.; Port Moody, B.C.; North Vancouver, B.C.; Vancouver; Calgary; Saskatoon; Winnipeg; Kenora; St. Catharines; Mississauga; Toronto; Ottawa; Halifax; Dartmouth and St. John's. Scholarships are available to help youth continue to row throughout the summer.

The award-winning program has received national acclaim from educators, youth workers and sports organizations for its innovate approach to sharing the lessons of sport with youth at risk. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport has recognized Dynamic Opportunities for Youth as one of five 'best practices' in community sport. The program and its sponsor, Dynamic Mutual Funds, have won two Canadian Sport Awards for corporate excellence.

Rock Solid, comprised of police officers from Victoria, is a founding member of the program and helps coaches learn to communicate with and understand the special needs of youth at risk.

"The rowing program has helped one student in particular open up and shine. He's a different person out on the water," says Lizanne Chicanot, a counsellor at Claremont Secondary School. "I've been searching and searching for an appropriate program for this boy and he has finally realized that what he wants to do is something outdoors. It's fantastic."

Dynamic Opportunities for Youth is sponsored by Dynamic Mutual Funds and produced by GO Rowing & Paddling Association, a not-for-profit national amateur athletic association that engages in activities and projects that support, promote, and advance rowing and paddling sports in Canada. The program is supported by Sport Canada, the Optimist Clubs of Canada, the Rock Solid Foundation, Rowing Canada Aviron, and the Graham C. Lount Family Foundation.

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