Macdonald-Headingley Recreation District director Susanne Moore said it would be impossible to offer many recreation opportunities in the district’s six communities without the dedicated efforts of volunteers.
"We recognize the extremely valuable contribution that volunteers make," she said.
The Macdonald-Headingley Recreation District is one of several similar organizations based throughout Manitoba. It is funded by provincial grants provided to municipalities.
Formed in 1991, the Macdonald-Headingley district originally included the municipalities of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Macdonald. Moore began working as the district’s sole employee in an office In Starbuck. After Cartier and St. Francois Xavier left, Headingley signed on. The office was relocated to Headingley in March 2010.
Moore said much of her time was spent getting to know the various recreation associations and groups operating within the communities, and discovering what each one has to offer.
With the help of three part-time staff members, she continues to meet with these groups and determine how they can help each one reach its goals. For example, a few years ago, the Macdonald Healthy Child group needed support and now it is thriving, with volunteer members from La Salle, Domain, Oak Bluff and Starbuck.
Moore said much of her organization’s work is done behind the scenes, such as helping groups apply for funding. The demand for recreational activities is growing as the communities expand with new subdivisions.
The recreation district’s program guide is published three times a year with a total of 13,200 copies distributed in 2012.
"We have more people interested in programs," Moore said. "There are those looking for something new."
Fitness classes are in high demand. The Southern Regional Health Authority is sponsoring a new class beginning in March entitled Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and there will also be classes in gluten-free cooking offered.
"That’s always been a challenge of ours: to find the niche of what we can offer," Moore said.
She said there is a need for after-school exercise programming for children and she hopes to work with local schools to come up with suitable options.
The district’s growing population puts a strain on aging recreation facilities and the results of a facilities assessment conducted last fall will be made public in early 2013. As well, the RM of Headingley is reviewing its recreation and parks master plan with a public meeting yet to be scheduled.