Emily Bassett can skate, swim or drop in at the Oliver Woods Community Centre gymnasium for free – all she needs is her active pass card.
The pass, introduced last year, gives Grade 5 students 12 free visits to public drop-in sessions at various Nanaimo recreational facilities.
Due to the popularity of the program, parks, recreation and culture is expanding it to Grade 6 students this year.
Bassett, 11, said having the free visits encourages her to attend more of the public sessions.
“It’s really fun and it keeps you active,” she said. “It’s good when you come down here with a whole bunch of friends.”
She said the program encourages youth to stay healthy and active.
Bassett knows some youth in her school would just stay home and sit on the couch if they didn’t have the pass.
To qualify for the Grade 5 pass, children must be born in 2001. Grade 6 pass recipients must be born in the year 2000. Application forms are available at city recreational centres and school offices in Nanaimo school district. The program is also open to children who are homeschooled in Nanaimo. Homeschool students must present proof of Nanaimo residency.
Tara Fedosoff, a recreation coordinator for parks, recreation and culture, said the active pass program is proactive, instilling healthy lifestyle choices in children and allowing them easier access to activities. It also aims to curb childhood obesity.
“We’re trying to help families make healthy choices. The idea is to encourage youth to participate in physical activity to create a pattern of life for the child,” said Fedosoff. “The aim is to create a healthy lifestyle at a time when independence is being explored by kids.”
Of the 907 youth eligible for the Grade 5 active pass in the school district last year, 484 registered. Those registrants paid a total of 4,000 visits to drop-in recreational swimming, skating and gymnasium programs.
The pass gives youth 12 free visits to public drop-in sessions which include swimming sessions at Beban Pool and the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre; skating sessions at Frank Crane Arena, Cliff McNabb Arena or the Nanaimo Ice Centre and gymnasium drop-in programs at Oliver Woods Community Centre.
To learn more about the active pass program please contact parks, recreation and culture at 250-756-5200.