Discovering your community centre

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Isolation is more common than you think among newcomers. Women, especially those with young children, are most likely to suffer from this. As husbands get occupied with finding work or coping with their new jobs, many of them spend their first weeks, even months, cooped up in their homes because of the language barrier or lack of knowledge of support programs (read the story of Shaheda and Lucia from Canadian Immigrant).

Aside from promoting a balanced life by providing venues for sports and recreation, community centres allow you to meet the families in your neighbourhood and help you gain new friends.

What newcomers need to know is that getting out there is the first step to rebuilding your sense of community.  A good place to start is by being active in the community centre. Most areas in Manitoba have these centres that offer recreation programs and cultural activities to residents; they are also venues for social interaction specifically for newcomers in the community. Usually, Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Workers set up shop in community centres as a centralized hub for providing English language training, settlement orientation, and other services to newcomers. Aside from promoting a balanced life through sports and recreation, community centres allow you to meet the families in your neighbourhood and help you and your children gain new friends.

What does a community centre offer?

These hubs offer various activities fit for people of all ages, for free or for a minimal charge. When you register for any of these activities, you can ask the coordinator if the fee subsidy program is offered. These include various sports and fitness programs, arts and crafts classes, and even social events. There are many sports offerings for kids such as swimming (summer), hockey, ice skating, baseball, taekwondo and others.

Meanwhile, adults may enroll in yoga or Zumba, badminton, volleyball, or perhaps take up a new hobby like knitting or woodworking. There may even be ballroom dancing or bridge games for grandma or grandpa. Community centres also hold socials where you can meet your neighbours in the area. You can enjoy potluck community suppers, holiday parties, or attend a community meeting and get a feel of the community spirit.

Get involved!

Volunteering is another great way to get yourself out there. If you have free time, you can help run activities, events or even coach group sports in the community centre. This is a great way to give back to your community. This will increase your interaction with others and improve your English skills. You can go online to find the community centre nearest you (see the links in the community resources section below), check the calendar of activities and volunteering opportunities available for you on their site. Of course, you can just visit the centre in your area and inquire there. If you want to know more about volunteering, read these articles: Why work for free? The value of volunteering and 5 best places to volunteer in Manitoba.

You don’t have to be alone when you’re a newcomer.  Manitoba has welcoming communities that will assist you in your transition and help you integrate quickly.  All it takes is your willingness to participate to start living a better life.

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Community Resources

Check out the community centre events of Brandon, Dauphin, Morden,Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Thompson, WinklerElton,the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul, and Winnipeg.

Browse through the Leisure Guide for easy access to free recreation, leisure and library programs in Winnipeg.

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