Bridlewood Community: Fostering Healthy and Active Lifestyles

Nestled in the west end of Ottawa, Bridlewood is a community that offers sports programming, provides the opportunity to learn about excellence in sports at school and where parents can access the latest online program about respectful conduct in sport. The community has even publicly celebrated its commitment to True Sport by hosting a True Sport launch. Indeed, True Sport lives here.

Dina Bell-Laroche, a resident of the fast-growing community, introduced True Sport to the Bridlewood Community Association (BCA) in spring 2006. The BCA was so interested in furthering the growth of True Sport that they created a True Sport Committee, of which Bell-Laroche was appointed Chairperson.  The committee has introduced a number of ideas including erecting True Sport signs and the integration of the nationally acclaimed Respect in Sport online program for all of its community coaches.
Members of the Bridlewood community have fostered healthy and active lifestyles through the spring sports program for many years. Soccer and softball are offered to children aged 5 through 12 – T-Ball is a hit with youngsters in kindergarten. "People come together," explains Bell-Laroche. "The focus is on having fun, getting out and enjoying yourself."

 The children attend practice and play in weekly games for eight weeks starting every May. While the program promotes learning new skills, the outcome is an opportunity for kids to meet new friends and have fun in the process. It's not just the kids on the field who participate; their families also get involved in the program by volunteering for tasks ranging from coaching to registration. People are giving back to their community.

 Parents and community coaches receive True Sport Community Action Kits, so that they can encourage their kids to follow the core values of excellence, inclusion, fairness and fun. Kids also receive a baseball hat and soccer ball bearing the True Sport logo, making it visible within the community. 

True Sport also started filling the halls of École élémentaire Élisabeth-Bruyère, a French-Catholic elementary school in Bridlewood. Students showed their support by signing an enormous True Sport poster, which hangs in the school’s gymnasium.

For Denis Lapointe, the physical education teacher at the school, True Sport values are important as they teach life lessons that work beyond the gym walls. He tries to teach his students to develop healthy lifestyles, and offers different sports during the lunch hour throughout the year. The juggling club, he says, is a popular activity that even helps increase concentration in the classroom. Lapointe adds that True Sport values reflect his own philosophy: "As physical education teachers, we talk about having values such as respect and being proud of our accomplishments."

To further celebrate its commitment to True Sport, the BCA hosted an official True Sport launch.  The event took place at a True Sport School in Bridlewood and showcased a Play in the Park event in collaboration with Silken’s Active Kids Movement.  Olympian Silken Laumann was on site to take part in the celebration and to help run the six (6) different activity stations each representing one of the True Sport Principles of: Go for it, Play Fair, Respect Others, Stay Healthy, Have Fun and Give Back.

The community has also supported initiatives like the BCA True Sport Award that recognizes high school students that exemplify the True Sport principles, hung a True Sport banner in the community centre, and incorporated the logo identifying the community as a ‘proud member’ of True Sport on all posters, rule books, communication to parents, players, coaches and volunteers.
Bell-Laroche explains that introducing True Sport into a community can be challenging, since it can be difficult to rally support around new ideas. But she believes True Sport can create change in many other communities. Bell-Laroche suggests having some structure, such as a committee. She also suggests talking with True Sport champions, who can make connections to positive sport. It is also important to take small, manageable steps that will eventually lead to big differences. "It is not about fixing sport, but celebrating something good and positive."