Shelburne soccer program helps develop social skills while having fun, coach says

Published on August 9, 2016

Children take part in the Active Start Soccer program in Shelburne.

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SHELBURNE, N.S. – A soccer program in Shelburne for young children has proven very popular, says the program’s coach, who says she would like to be able to offer it to more kids. She notes too that the program is about more than just soccer.

“This program is about so much more than children learning soccer skills,” said Linnea Swinimer, referring to the Active Start Soccer sessions she has been doing at Shelburne Regional High School. “It is about outdoor play and the development of social skills, all while having fun.”

One of this summer’s sessions was for Grade Primary students, who attended a one-hour practice per week for six weeks. A second session was for children aged three to five (not yet attending school). This one consisted of two weekly practices of 45 minutes each for three weeks, with the participants accompanied by parents.

There was a $20 fee for the program for Primary students – who got a T-shirt – while the program for the younger group was offered free of charge (with no T-shirt). Each session had a limit of 20 participants.

Swinimer, physical activity and community school coordinator for the Municipality of Shelburne and Town of Lockeport, says the demand seems to be there to expand the program, but doing so will require more funding.

“When I posted registration for the second program – the free program – we had a wait list of about 22 people, so that’s enough to run another program, but the funding is just not there.”

The program is funded by a grant. Swinimer says she’s looking to next year and beyond, hoping there will sufficient funds to offer the program to more children.

Just from the standpoint of getting children out in the fresh air and being physically active with others, the program is worthwhile, she says.

“I think it’s so valuable, especially today,” she said. “Kids are outside less than previous years, previous generations.”