BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The keys to creating a great program include a variety of things. Often, an idea is sparked out of passion and taken forward by a leader with the help and support of other like-minded people.
Getting a program started is more than ideas, however. It requires planning, commitment and often, a bit of funding. To help bring great ideas forward in Lacombe, the City is encouraging citizens to pitch their idea to the Recreation and Culture Grant program.
Through the Recreation and Culture Master Plan, $8,000 of funding has been made available in grants to support businesses and non-profit community groups in bringing new programs and services to the City.
Applications are available at lacombe.ca/recreation-culture.
“The grants are specifically for new initiatives and services that provide recreation and culture benefits to the community,” explained Sandi Stewart, recreation and culture manager.
“One of the programs that was started with funds from this grant is Music in the Park, and that still stands as a poster-child for this program. In 2014, the first year we offered the grant, Music in the Park applied and that program has really been great for the community.”
Stewart explained that people must adhere to the application guidelines, especially in bringing forward new program suggestions only. The grants are a one-time funding allocation that can be saved and used for future use as groups become more self-sustaining.
“This grant is designed to be more of a kick-start fund to get programs running. From there, people are able to garner funds, sponsors and other donations to keep their programs going,” she said.
There are 11 criteria listed on the grant application, and Stewart said utilizing two or more of the guidelines always helps to create a stronger application.
As well, many of the guidelines are supported by initiatives such as Active Alberta and the National Recreation Framework document. By aligning new programs with provincial and federal recommendations, this opens up the potential for future funding through government programs.
Stewart said it would be great to see groups utilize the Canada 150 themes as well, which include reconciliation with Indigenous groups, recognizing and inspiring youth, working with nature and environmental awareness and to create welcoming and inclusive programming.
She said it’s also always a positive to see groups that engage inter-generational audiences and groups that bring together the possibilities of recreation and culture together, as opposed to one or the other.
“There are a number of ways this grant can tie into the Canada 150. With the grant, we talk about inclusion, reaching out to youth, engaging in after-school programs, working within nature and environment and creating awareness and engagement,” she said.
“There are a number of ways people can offer inclusion activities for various cultures and learn more about Aboriginal culture in the region as well.”
Most programs and services initiated at grassroots levels have one major aspect in common: volunteers.
Stewart said it’s important to the Recreation and Culture Grant applicants to consider how volunteerism will play a role in their potential programs, and explained it simply benefits the community to do so.
“If programs are making use of volunteers and engaging people in the program, it builds the program and helps to sustain it. It also brings the benefits of volunteering to the volunteers, meaning job skills, social aspects and being a part of the community,” she said.
“It’s a win-win situation if people can include volunteering in their new initiative. Once people get volunteer experience, they tend to volunteer more. That means the community as a whole benefits.”
If people are interested in chatting with Stewart regarding an idea to see if it fits, they may contact her at 403-782-1266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.