In 2018, CACTES had the privilege of hosting a PhD student from the University of Sheffield for a commissioned research report related to the local crisis of homelessness, and it’s related consequences - specifically the rise of opioid use - in our native Vancouver region.
The report suggests that sports should be used as an agent for social change in disadvantaged youth. Not only do sports promote social inclusion, increased discipline and teamwork skills, playing sports can also promote the creation of jobs and skills enhancement in the future. Due to the surge in homelessness, poverty and substance abuse within Canada, the report states that Canadian citizens are the second-highest per-capita consumers of opioids in the world. In addition, Vancouver has seen an increase in “at-risk” and homeless youths within the past few years.
Sports and recreational programmes have already been available to disadvantaged youths including Britannia HUB, First Nations Basketball Project and the Active Transportation School Incentives Programme. But because these initiatives were one-time events or temporary activities, they do not have enough time to reach their full potential in aiding youth. Due to the complexity of substance addiction due to drugs such as fentanyl or other opioids, the proposed initiative is to seek current wellbeing and preventative measures. The report suggests that these initiatives should be long-term and centre around sports programmes and recreational opportunities, aimed towards children and secondary school students. Possible activities could include after-school programs, leisure facilities, and co-organized programmes with a youth homeless shelter. The disadvantages of this might be trying to source a reliable and dedicated number of volunteers as well as the availability of locations and venues.
CACTES Association previously has provided “care packages” full of basic needs for the homeless. In light of this report, we have been continuously trying to support local initiatives such as sports programs, workshops for youths and events supporting youth leadership in hopes to help alleviate this national issue.