Vision, Mission and Membership
Recreation Nova Scotia (RNS) is located in Mi’kmaqi, on the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq people.RNS envisions “a province in which everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, creed, colour, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or socio-economic circumstance, is engaged in meaningful, accessible recreation experiences that foster individual wellbeing, community wellbeing, and the wellbeing of our natural and built environments”. The mission of RNS is to champion, promote, and advocate for recreation as an essential element in building healthy, caring and vibrant communities; facilitate the education and development of recreation professionals and volunteers; and promote connectivity between recreation sector professionals, influencers and beneficiaries. RNS has over 1,000 members, including municipal recreation providers, community-based recreation providers, provincial recreation organizations, and businesses focused on recreation service delivery.
How RNS is Supporting Inclusion and Access for Persons with Disabilities
RNS recognizes that inclusion and access must be the cornerstone from which to build recreation programs and service delivery. Programming for individuals with a disability starts with community advocates. RNS has an active Inclusion and Access Task Team, and has co-hosted a summit on access and inclusion, called “Confronting the Challenges to Access”. Additionally, community engagement sessions focused further on inclusion and access across the sector. Currently, RNS is developing a framework that explores the intersections that need to be understood when considering inclusion and access for persons with disabilities in particular.
Community Spotlights: Antigonish County and the Autism Pictou County Swim Program
Antigonish County is a rural area in Nova Scotia with many beaches. The Antigonish County Recreation Department had accessibility equipment available for free loan, however, not enough to meet their goal of inclusive recreation for all. A councillor in Antigonish heard about Mobi Mats, which make the beach accessible for all wheeled devices. A 148-feet Mobi Mat was installed off the boardwalk at Pomquet Beach. The mat is a lightweight, non-slip, portable, roll-out beach access pathway that extends off the boardwalk to the high-water line. An adapted picnic table was added, and adjustments were made to ensure the change rooms and washrooms were accessible and inclusion, called “Confronting the Challenges to Access”. Additionally, community engagement sessions focused further on inclusion and access across the sector. Currently, RNS is developing a framework that explores the intersections that need to be understood when considering inclusion and access for persons with disabilities in particular.
The Autism Pictou County Swim Program was created in response to the Pictou County community residents voicing their needs and concern that children with disabilities are at the highest risk of accidental drowning. The program offers weekly, 30-minute one-to-one swimming lessons for persons with autism spectrum disorder and related disorders. The program teaches water safety and survival first, with a natural progression to swimming skills. Autism Pictou County pays the YMCA to hire and train instructors who are skilled to support participants’ needs and abilities allowing participants to thrive. Instructors adjust and adapt their methods based on feedback to achieve optimal results.