Recently, I was reviewing the programmes and work undertaken over the past 17 years by the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC).

One programme that has had a significant impact is the TTOC’s community based sport and recreation programmes.

The concept behind the community programmes is built on the TTOC working along and side by side with various stakeholders in sport, including national sport organisations, coaches, athletes, other sport leaders, corporate partners and government.

An example of such a programme would have been the Shape the Community programme in Point Fortin which was an ambitious programme that set out to fill gaps in sport education in the community through the training of community coaches and the involvement of community members, schools, NSOs and other partners.

Shape your Community focused on integrating sustainable sport and physical activity into the lives of the youth and elderly.

In conjunction with Atlantic LNG, the TTOC afforded children from primary schools in Point Fortin the opportunity to participate in sports that they would not normally be exposed to during the period 2008—2013.

In October 2008, the TTOC launched its legacy programme, Shape the Community. The objectives of the programme in the community are:

• Increase participation in sport, recreation and physical education across all age groups in the communities

• Integrate physical education programmes in primary schools

• Increase corporate involvement in the development of youth through sport

• Develop coaching as a profession

• Create sustainable employment opportunities for the profession of coaching

• Expose youth to sports of varying types in a structured manner

• Increase the reach of the TTOC’s and the IOC’s vision and goals for Olympism

• Establish a developmental pathway for sport in the communities in collaboration with national sport organisations and the Ministry of Sport.

Point Fortin was chosen as the pilot community. Ten primary schools in Point Fortin were chosen to participate in the programme after careful consultation with principals and teachers in the community, the three sports chosen were tennis, swimming and gymnastics.

Training and participation took place between Mondays and Fridays. Each session was one hour long and each class was assigned four hours of activity per month.

The TTOC arranged for the children and supervising teachers to be transported to the various venues. Coaches and volunteers were all recruited from within the community of Point Fortin.

The Point Fortin Borough Corporation supported the programme by waiving the fees for the use of their facilities—the Point Fortin Civic Centre, the Baby Lucas and Guapo Recreational Grounds.

Swimming took place at the Point Fortin community swimming pool in Egypt Village.

The gymnastics programme took place at the South West regional indoor facility.

Coaches were exposed to training along with the volunteers.

The Shape your Community programme was extended to Mayaro with plans to take the programme to other communities and was evaluated by researchers at the Sport and Leisure Academy at the University of T&T.

The intention of the evaluation included highlighting challenges, to work out solutions to these challenges, and to establish baseline measures for other communities across the country.

The Shape your Community project was the brainchild of TTOC past president Larry Romany. It is a programme that made a positive difference and showed that Olympism, the Olympic values and ideals had practical application and wasn’t just a nebulous idealistic notion.

On behalf of the TTOC I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Be safe and keep Christ in Christmas. He is the reason for the season.

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