Indigenous youth find pathways beyond track

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Western welcomed Grade 7 and 8 Indigenous students from across Southwestern Ontario for the 15thannual Track and Field Day on Wednesday. The event brings together the Western Indigenous Student Centre, Mustangs Track and Field team and youth for a day of athletics, team building and leadership training.

“The youth who come to the event learn of new activities through an introduction to this sport, while getting to meet and connect with new role models in the volunteer mentors,” explained Joy SpearChief-Morris, Field Day Coordinator and a Program Coordinator Assistant in the Indigenous Student Centre. “In the last two years, this event has focused even more on the building of new relationships through mentorship, leadership, exploring healthy initiatives and, as always, creating pathways for future opportunities.”

The Track and Field Day allows Indigenous youth in to experience campus life and learn from athletes what it means to be an athlete, SpearChief-Morris explained. These university mentors share the benefits of a healthy active lifestyle, teamwork and school spirit.

This event truly demonstrates meaningful representation of what it is like to be a Mustang and a part of the Western Indigenous community, said Vickie Croley, Head Coach, Mustangs Track and Field.

“This event provides our team with leadership experience while interacting with the youth,” Croley said. “It’s rewarding to see the participants having fun and trying a variety of new track-and-field events. It is also a way to get the youth on campus and get them excited about coming to university. It’s thrilling some of Western’s current Indigenous students participated in one of our Track and Field Days as elementary school students.”