Opinion

Organizing fun times in Arrowsmith

From left, Marilynn Sims and Kim Longmuir are two thirds of ART, a team dedicated to organizing and coordinating recreational activities in Arrowsmith Country. - LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO
From left, Marilynn Sims and Kim Longmuir are two thirds of ART, a team dedicated to organizing and coordinating recreational activities in Arrowsmith Country.
— image credit: LISSA ALEXANDER PHOTO

Behind a number of thriving Arrowsmith Community programs there's a team of three people otherwise known as ART.

They call it the Arrowsmith Recreation Team, made up of Marilynn Sims, Kim Longmuir and Reg Nosworthy. Sims is the Arrowsmith Community Coordinator, Longmuir the Arrowsmith Activity Coordinator and Nosworthy is the chair of the recreation commission for the area (electoral area F).

"A big part of this is we work hard to bring groups together for the good of the community," said Longmuir.

The team doesn't work out of an office. Instead, they work from their homes, which means money can go directly into programming instead of administration costs, Sims said. That's why the three of them can often be seen holding their meetings with community members at local coffee shops.

The Arrowsmith Community is made up of five neighbourhoods — Errington, Coombs, Hilliers, Whiskey Creek and Meadowood — and is one of the fastest-growing areas on Vancouver Island, and possibly all of B.C, said Longmuir. It is also home to the largest amount of young families in District 69 and is fast approaching a population of 8,000.

ART has been responsible for creating programs, helping facilitate programs, helping write grants for community members, hosting events and many other things.

They helped the popular Building Learning Together (BLT) program Dad's Night Out come to fruition in Arrowsmith and Longmuir, and even ran it until they found a dad to take over. Longmuir said she was regularly getting 45 people show up to the small gym at the French Creek Community School.

"That was a program that was a good fit in that community, it was needed," she said, adding it's still attracting a large crowd.

ART puts together the Arrowsmith Community insert that appears in The News, they keep the online Arrowmsith Community Calendar updated and they help get programs into local facilities like BLT's Mother Goose program that runs in the Arrowmsith Activity Centre, a free educational program for children under six.

Sims said one of the many programs ART is proud of is Youth Drop-In at the Activity Centre. The team helps organize transportation when needed and was able to get sports equipment and games through grants as well as from the community, she said.

"We've had donations from the community of air hockey tables, and fooseball tables, and so it was this one little night that kind of snowballed into a much needed program."

The Arrowsmith Community Enhancement Society's (ACES) Band in a Box, facilitated by local musicians like Gerry Barnum, is another successful program ART has played a big part in. It consists of two enormous totes filled with percussion instruments from around the world which Barnum takes on the BLT To Go Bus and to seniors homes, youth centres, schools and events.

Building relationships in the community is key to ART's success, Sims said, and Nosworthy's great connections as a local figure and volunteer certainly help. Besides the chair of the recreation commission for the area, Nosworthy is the past president of the local business association and was involved in the Arrowsmith Community Enhancement Society (ACES) among other local organizations and committees.

All three members of ART are avid volunteers involved in a host of community groups and are all devoted to improving the delivery of recreation services at a price people can afford. Without any public transportation or public facilities, their work can be a challenge, Sims said.

One upcoming event in Arrowsmith Country that ART is currently helping to create is Family Day, Feb. 11 at the Activity Centre located at the Fairgrounds. This is in partnership with the Arrowsmith Agricultural Association, who are celebrating 100 years of their fair this year. There will also be a fundraiser Feb.16 to help with programming at the Coombs Munchkinland and this will feature three bands, including the community Jug Band.

Although Nosworthy was out of town at the time of the interview, Sims said all three ART members love their work and she personally always feels good when they accomplish something.

"When I open one of those (approved) grants, you just go, yeah we're making a difference. The three of us together are making a difference, and we get that feedback all the time."

For more information on events in Arrowsmith Country visit www.arrowsmithcalendar.com.

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