For those kids going back to school in a couple of weeks, it’s a great time to see old friends and make new ones.
Yet there are some school kids or home-schooled ones who don’t have many friends - and this column is for them.
You may wonder why I’m talking about loneliness and kids in a sports column. Well, I believe playing sports or belonging to any club at school is a great conduit in bringing like-minded students together in pursuit of a common goal.
Childhood is a lonely time for some kids, especially in rural areas. My wife grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan and she often speaks of the difficulty in maintaining friendships when she was growing up because of the travelling distance between herself and all her classmates.
That’s why I think it’s crucial for kids, especially in rural areas, to jump in with both feet and try out for that basketball, volleyball or track team. There’s no better way to make friends for life than to be on the same high school team. Practices, games, travelling, it’s a great way to bond. Or join that chess club, band or school yearbook.
The amazing thing about school friendships is that it usually doesn’t stop when the season is over or the club no longer meets - they will have those same friends going forward for the rest of their school days and beyond.
I played an obscure sport called handball during high school in Edmonton and 40 years later I’m still in touch with a few of the guys who now live all over North America from Miami to New York to Vancouver.
Friends for life.
But the kids in rural areas can’t do it alone - they need help from Mom and Dad. Moral support. Encouragement. Offering to drive them to practices or picking them up after school events.nAnd if your school in Melita, Pierson, or whatever community doesn’t have that chess club, soccer team or floor hockey league, well then “Mom and Dad”, get down to the school and start one. Contact the school board, principal, or teacher and find out what you need to do. Volunteer your time and make it happen. Involve other parents.
If the schools aren’t very cooperative or move too slowly, then check with your community centre, Town office or even churches that rent facilities. Friendships are so important to the development of a child or teenager.
Bottom line: you’ve got to make it happen.