Empowering Tomorrow’s Athletes: EXCEL Try it Sessions

Providing participants with exposure to different sports and the opportunity to learn physical literacy skills is a priority for the EXCEL program. Over the past two years, EXCEL has partnered with multiple Provincial Sport Organizations to provide ‘Try it’ sessions across 72 schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality.  

Partners have included Rugby Nova Scotia, Football Nova Scotia, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Athletics Nova Scotia, Golf Nova Scotia, and the Run, Jump, Throw, Wheel program, providing kids the opportunities to learn and try sports they may not have been otherwise exposed to.   

“This year, it’s estimated that we’ve had 1,800 participants take part in one or more of the sessions,” said Kate MacDonald, Manager with Halifax Regional Centre for Education. “Last year, 4,200 participants participated in one or more of the sessions.” 

Community support and partnerships with organizations such as Sport Nova Scotia have been instrumental to the success of the ‘Try it’ Sessions. Sport Nova Scotia’s Manager of Regional & Community Sport Development aided EXCEL with the application process and sharing information with organizations and clubs. Many of the sport organizations that expressed interest have gone above and beyond to adapt their programs for the ‘Try it’ Sessions.  

EXCEL holds an application period where organizations can submit their organization for the ‘Try it’ sessions each spring. Since 2022, EXCEL has seen an increase in interest from various organizations, and they hope to add more spots to their External Programmer Opportunities soon.  

“The sport organizations have been incredible,” said MacDonald. “They have amazing program staff, great communication, and are very open to feedback. They have all tailored their sessions to meet the needs of our participants, and, in all cases, we have had nothing but positive feedback from our EXCEL sites.” 

The ‘Try it” sessions are one-offs, so the EXCEL participants take part for one afternoon, usually a 45-minute session. For many participants, it’s their first-time trying a sport such as Rugby or Rhythmic Gymnastics, and many expressed interest in finding local programs to further participate in that sport.  

EXCEL plans to open an application period this spring for sport organizations to apply to participate in the External Programmer Opportunities for the 2024/2025 school year. They hope to add new sports to the mix, while also offering the chance for repeat organizations to continue participating.  

“Our staff and participants are extremely engaged and have enjoyed every moment,” said MacDonald. “Both the staff and participants are learning new skills with the help of confident, competent, and motivating sport organization staff. We are very grateful for the opportunity to show new sports to our EXCEL participants!” 

For sport organizations that want to submit an application or to learn more about the External Programmer Opportunities, contact Kate MacDonald at macdonald.kate@hrce.ca.  

The EXCEL Try it Sessions programming was made possible with the assistance of Sport Nova Scotia’s Sport Fund Program. For more information about how Sport Nova Scotia can help support your community sport initiative, check out our eligibility page on our website.  

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