The Somali Heritage games is an intensive annual summer sports program developed by Midaynta Community Services, to celebrate Somali-Canadians, their Somali heritage and empower Somali youth through educational workshops and promote civic engagement within the Somali Community. The program combines sports and education whilst providing a platform where pressing community issues can be discussed and an opportunity for youth to gain transferable life skills and understand accountability and a develop strong work ethic. As the Somali community in Canada continues to face multiple barriers and challenges including high rates of youth violence, increased school dropouts, and socio-economic challenges, a program like this help empowers Somali youth, teaching them of the richness of their Somali heritage to develop positive identities and engage them in physical activity to disrupt them from taking wrong paths. In addition, it provides youth the opportunity to gain intercultural understanding and knowledge of their heritage, breaking social and cultural barriers that deter youth from full participation in their communities.
Every year we organize games and workshops for youth, incorporate different activities and events to enhance their experience. In 2019 we incorporate a flag-raising event to celebrate Somali-Canadians and their Somali heritage. Sports games include basketball and soccer for both girls and boys. We aim to make sure youth are occupied and engaged in a physical activity when they are not in school and continue to find creative ways to include different sports and introduce them to different sports.
This year, in light of Covid-19 and the challenges it has brought to the program, we have instituted measures to keep everyone safe and encourage our youth to play, especially during the hot months of summer. This year has been themed/named “Play Again” and we will run from June 2021 to March 2022.