Advocacy for Inclusive Recreation program launches its fall program
This October marks the launch of the UVic Advocacy for Inclusive Recreation’s (AIR) fall program. After a successful summer pilot as the first program of this kind at UVic, AIR aims to provide students with access to safe and inclusive recreational activities.
At its core the AIR program aims to address the systemic barriers linked to physical activity through regularly providing inclusive, accessible, and enjoyable opportunities. Among other important goals the AIR program is working to build community within the advocacy groups and across other communities at UVic.
The program is the result of a collaboration between Vikes Athletics and Recreation, the Office of Student Life, and the following UVic advocacy groups: Gender Empowerment Centre (GEM), the Native Students Union (NSU), the Society for Students with a Disability (SSD), the Students of Colour Collective (SOCC), and UVic Pride.
Cristina Venturin, outreach coordinator of GEM and AIR team member, explained in an interview with the Martlet that the program will also “start an ongoing dialogue with UVic and Vikes on how to create and improve safer and more equitable spaces on campus; both physically and through specific programming.”
Venturin also said that the core beliefs of the AIR program are to encourage wellness, movement, inclusivity, community, and play.
AIR is manifesting these beliefs by implementing a less goal-based approach in fall classes, a characteristic that was present in their pilot program during the summer. This new approach means that instructors are focused on making sure that body movement helps make participants feel good.
Adrean Meuser, office coordinator of the SSD and AIR team member, explained it as “a practice of intentional facilitation of movement.”
This also means that class attendees can enjoy the lesson without having to focus on the competitive aspect that usually comes with athletics.
“Many people feel this barrier when they’re interacting with recreation and the gym,” said Venturin. “It excludes so many people who would benefit from just the opportunity to feel more comfortable in their bodies in a recreation space.”
AIR will be offering a variety of weekly classes, like Monday climbing at the CARSA climbing wall, free for all participants who sign up.
AIR is also hosting different events by at least one of the five different advocacy groups a few times per week. It kicked off with a racquet sports event hosted by GEM and UVic Pride on October 21.
Regardless if students are already a part of a UVic advocacy group, Venturin and Meuser both stressed that students’ needs are intersectional, and that if a student feels that they will find a sense of belonging at AIR, then they will belong.
“We expect people to self-select and decide, and self-identify,” said Meuser. “If they feel cozy, we feel cozy.”
Students who feel that AIR might be for them are encouraged to sign up through the program’s linktree on Instagram at @uvic.air.