Youth for Christ Portage is encouraging kids to get active this summer.
They are hosting two weekly sessions of both volleyball and soccer from 1-4 Monday to Thursday. This past week was the start of it all, and sports program coordinator Nate Thiessen, talks about the age group they're catering to.
"We're aiming for 8 to 12-year-olds. We know there's not a ton of stuff aimed right at that age bracket," Thiessen explains. "Generally, most of my programs are with the high school students, so it's a great way to connect with kids that are going to be in high school in the next couple of years. I'm probably not going to turn away a 7-year-old or a 13-year-old if they come but our aim is 8 to 12."
The program coordinator says they are at La Verendrye School on Mondays and Tuesdays, Yellowquill on Wednesdays, and Ecole Arthur Meighen on Thursdays. He notes the program runs until August 11 and is completely free.
"We have donations given by people who support our mission and what we're doing. So, we're able to provide all of these programs free of charge to kids, thanks to their generous support," Thiessen continues. "It's really cool to be a part of something free, so everybody can come. We're trying to put it at public places where people will already be, and hopefully, that draws more kids in and gets them a part of it."
Thiessen says this is YFC's second year running this program, and he says it become very important to him.
"It's awesome to be a part of these kids' lives in any way. Doing something like sports gives them a chance to be part of a team and connect with other kids, which is so important to me," says Thiessen. "My siblings are way younger than me, and I grew up without a lot of close friends. Being able to connect with other kids is something I would've appreciated as a kid. So, I think it's really important for these guys to meet other kids and just be kids for the summer."
The leader of the sports division at YFC says he's only been with the organization for two and a half years but adds he wanted to make an impact in the entire Portage area.
"We typically work in the north end. At our Willow Bay location, we have games days every day all summer, which is really awesome. After seeing that, I thought, 'What if we could connect more kids?' We were hitting that one community really well but I wanted to connect with more kids throughout Portage," Thiessen continues. "Last year we ran these programs at La Verendrye, and we saw 150 unique kids come out. My target this summer is to cover more area and make hit 250 kids."
Thiessen notes you don't have to be of Christian faith to take part in the sports aspect of things, adding all are welcome.