Immigrant kids lose out on after-school activities, says study

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Toronto, March 4 (CINEWS): March Break is around the corner and all across the city, there are hundreds of private and city facilities that will be offering week-long deep and enriching activities for kids. But a large number of children of new immigrants who need these activities possibly more than anyone else will likely find themselves watching television or playing video games at home.

A new study by Social Planning Toronto not surprisingly finds children of immigrants face obstacles when it comes in accessing recreation programs.
Newcomer youth are participating in recreation at half the rate of Canadian-born children.
Through focus groups and consultations, immigrant youth between the ages of 13 and 19 said they spent most of their time on social media, at the mall, reading and “hanging out at home,” when they really desired to get into gymnastics, horseback riding, rock climbing, painting, playing music and other activities.
Thirty-two per cent of children of immigrants participated in sports, compared with 55 per cent of their Canadian-born counterparts who joined a sports club.
It is not just March Break activities that these children can’t access, activities year round are beyond their reach as parents struggle to provide the basics in those first few crucial years.
For many saving up for a house ends up being more important than investing in extra-curricular activities for their children.
In many instances, even when parents can afford enrolling their children in some activity, they may not have the time to drive them there owing to their work schedule. And this is especially true when immigrant families live in suburbs that lack adequate public transportation.
The study recommends a buddy system to reach out to immigrant youth and their families and expose them to the resources and programs. It suggests service providers must involve newcomer communities in developing programs that are relevant to the city’s changing demographics. But that would perhaps not achieve the results that should be got because newcomer communities have recreational reference points that come from the old country and if their ideas based on their own experiences are put into practice, their children could end up in activities that are very narrow and ethnically skewed. The idea behind newcomer children joining activities enjoyed by their other peers in school would help in their integration into the system and introduce them to students hailing from other cultures. All this inclusion can happen when children get the opportunity to learn and play together.

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