The importance of physical activity in youth 12 -15 years of age has been recognized by the Liberal Government and we are investing $282 000 in projects throughout the province. After the Bell Programs that are supported through this investment, focus on youth who are participating in hockey, swimming, rock climbing, skating, outdoor trails and other recreational sport activities.

We continue to be made aware of the importance of healthy lifestyle and these activities are designed to begin the formation of this healthy lifestyle early on. Research shows that only 21% of girls meet the daily standard of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. After the Bell provides youth, especially girls, with the opportunity to stay active close to home. The Department of Health and Wellness has announced support for such projects in 67 communities across the province. Several of these are in Colchester County.

More than $15 000 of funding for after school activities was announced for outdoor trails in Bible Hill, rock climbing, yoga and other physical activities for girls at Rath Eastlink Community Centre, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and hiking on Gully Lake Trail, ‘come out and try program’ for Grade 7-9 girls at Bass River School, learning to play ringette at the outdoor rink in Five Islands and the basics of hockey to young women at the North Shore Recreation Centre – Babes on Blades.

On February 29th I had the opportunity to meet those young girls and their coach in Tatamagouche at the Rec Centre. At that time I officially announced the support from our Government for a program designed to encourage participation in girls hockey. As their coach Chelsea Baird said “empowering young women, on and off the ice is what this program provides”.

The girls were “laced up” and on the ice, demonstrating and learning new skills. This program will have lasting impact on the girls and the community. In fact, the North Colchester High School is looking to this as a training and recruitment program for their high school girls hockey team.

I want to thank North Shore Rec Centre President Kelly Tucker and Coach Chelsea Baird for their commitment to the young girls and women along the North Shore. It is evident that you understand the value of the program and that you are volunteering your time to make it a success.

With the introduction of these activities and the enjoyment and skill development for young girls, we will spark a new interest and life-long involvement in physical activity. After the Bell Programs will become part of the ongoing commitment by volunteers to the youth of our province.

As the MLA I continue to be proud of the volunteerism of our community leaders as they support these initiatives funded by the Government of Nova Scotia.

Karen Casey, MLA

Colchester North