Supporting programs that help kids be kids

Photo: Camp Manitou, 2016. Credit: Photo by Marcus Hoch, courtesy of Camp Manitou.

Kids learn and grow through play. The Foundation has long supported recreational programs, including summer camps.

The first fresh air camp opened on Lake Winnipeg in 1911, and by the 1920s there were seven camps in the area. The Foundation’s first grant to camps was made in 1931 to the Associated Winnipeg Fresh Air Camps. See details – Fresh air camps of Lake Winnipeg

The Foundation also began its long association with Camp Manitou around this time. Located just five minutes outside Winnipeg in Headingly, Camp Manitou was established in 1930 on land purchased and donated by The Winnipeg Foundation. It was run for many years by the Rotary, Kinsmen, Cosmopolitan, Kiwanis, Optimist and Lions service clubs of Winnipeg, and by the YMCA. Beginning in 2014, a new ownership structure saw The Winnipeg Foundation ensuring continued community ownership of the land, and management and programming provided by True North Youth Foundation.

The Winnipeg Foundation also began supporting Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in 1931. The Boy Scouts’ wilderness camp at Big Whitesell Lake was named Camp Alloway after William Alloway, founder of The Winnipeg Foundation. The Foundation also contributed funds to the Girl Guide camp at Caddy Lake when it was first built in 1949 and again in 1966 when a severe snowstorm and blizzard collapsed the main building on the site.”11

Today, The Foundation remains committed to supporting the summer camp experience through its Camperships program. Grants are available for sleep-away and day camps, and for special summer programming such as day trips. Since it was established in 2009, Camperships have distributed grants totaling more than $4.2 million. The Foundation is also a long-time supporter of the Manitoba Camping Association. Since 1998, The Foundation has supported the organization with grants totaling more than $1.2 million and has helped more than 1,000 kids go to camp through the Sunshine Fund.

The Foundation has long recognized the importance of recreational programming in ensuring young people have access to safe, educational and entertaining activities that keep them occupied.

In 1931, The Foundation took on a special project in collaboration with the YMCA-YWCA, which called for the creation of community clubs in Winnipeg. By 1932, Character Building Services became a priority for The Foundation – a granting category now called Health, Wellness and Recreation.12 By the 1970s, Y facilities were popular options for young people, offering built green spaces, indoor and outdoor pools, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, and youth centres. The Foundation’s 50th anniversary publication, published in 1971, noted:

“All three Ys (YMCA, YWCA, YMHA) provide a broad base of services to a large segment of the Metropolitan community. While these services are basically recreational, they may also be described as preventative. Without any concern for race, creed or colour, they provide a multi-service that includes health, fitness, athletics, corrective services, adult education, leadership development and social animation.13

The Foundation has supported a variety of initiatives that are community-led and tailored to local needs.

For example, in 2001 The Foundation supported the Lighthouse Project, a community-based program that provided after hours social, recreational and crime prevention activities for youth. An initiative of the Manitoba Justice Neighbourhoods Alive! program, Lighthouses developed partnerships among youth, police, Justice personnel and the community. That year, 19 different locations hosted the program, including schools, recreation centres and other existing facilities. Each Lighthouses location was unique, created and managed by the community.

The Foundation has also been a longtime supporter of Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, which offers Indigenous-led programming to support and rebuild families. Ma Mawi’s Positive Athletic Cultural Experience (PACE) program, which The Foundation began supporting in 2003, engages youth through recreation and Indigenous tradition to help develop self-esteem, self-sufficiency and social responsibility. In 2007, The Foundation noted, “From swimming to sweat lodges, the program takes a holistic approach to helping youth build relationships and create healthier lifestyles.14

Since 2013, The Foundation has been working to ensure young people living in and around Manitoba Housing have the same opportunities as their peers. The Growing Active Kids program, which operates at the Plessis, Tuxedo/ Edgeland, Concordia and Gilbert Park Manitoba Housing sites, is a grassroots initiative with steering committee of local Manitoba Housing residents. During the pilot, which ran from 2013 and 2017, more than 1,000 families were impacted. The program continues to operate to this day, and is a joint initiative between the governments of Canada and Manitoba and The Winnipeg Foundation.

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