By volunteering with the Spence Neighbourhood Association, Carly Scramstad, 21, and Jenelle Sammurtok, 14, are helping other young people to build confidence, make friends and learn new skills.
Scramstad, a University of Winnipeg student, started volunteering with the non-profit agency just two months ago but already her contribution has been immense. Twice each week she coaches soccer at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre (MERC), the home of the Spence Neighbourhood Association. Children from the inner city, between the ages of six and 14, can sign up for free to be a part of MERC's team, which plays in a league with five other inner-city community centres.
"I think that sport is a good way to get kids involved in building confidence and getting to know other kids," explained Scramstad, who grew up and still lives in St. James. "A lot of things you learn in sports, teamwork and stuff, that can help you make good decisions for the rest of your life. I can only see positive things come from being involved in a team and getting out two nights a week to play soccer and meeting new people."
She added that sports, particularly soccer, are an essential part of her life and one of the reasons she chose to become a volunteer coach.
"It was easy to get access to sports programs where I grew up or in my circumstances. Here, it's a pretty big privilege that has just begun. It's important to me to see that project continue and hopefully grow."
For Sammurtok, her motivation to volunteer is a little different. For the past two summers, the young teen has volunteered five days a week in the Building Belonging program, coaching basketball and helping to serve snacks. The youth program provides children from the area with recreational activities each day.
Sammurtok, who dreams of one day becoming a police officer, said she enjoys working with young kids and hopes her experiences help her in the future, but mostly, she volunteers for the fun of it.
"It's a fun experience and you get to meet new people," said Sammurtok, who will enter Grade 9 this fall at Gordon Bell High School.
She said the program also provides role models to the 40-plus children who attend daily and gives them a fun way to fill their days.
If you would like more information about the Spence Neighbourhood Association or would like to become a volunteer, please visit www.spenceneighbourhood.org or contact volunteer co-ordinator Tamara Weller at 783-0290.
If you know a special volunteer who strives to make their community a better place to live, please contact Erin Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org.