With summer over and the school year now in full swing, Thompsonites are in desperate need of extra curricular activities to keep them occupied throughout the long winter season.
For the last quarter century the Thompson Health and Leisure Mart has aimed to jump-start that whole process, and its 2018 iteration was no different.
Throughout Sept. 7−8, the Gordon Beard Arena played host to at least 24 different locally owned clubs, businesses and community organizations that used this space to recruit new members and advertise their services to the public.
These ranged from community staples like the Thompson Minor Hockey Association to recent newcomers like radio personality Ramraajh Sharvendiran, who was promoting his new gig as the host of CBC’s Thompson-based program called North Country.
Many of these organizations also sought to provide local youth with an athletic or creative outlet, such as the case with the Diamond Dance Academy, who accommodate kids of various ages and skill levels.
“We have tons of beginners and the teachers are very accommodating to them,” said director Lynn Nakonechny. “There are a lot of assistants that do help new recruits, so they can just learn on their own, especially if there’s little ones.”
Other business owners like Linda Toews, who runs Matisiwin Hearth, used this public platform to promote new upcoming events for adults that might be a difficult sell in a different environment.
More specifically, Toews said she is starting a five-week yoga course on Oct. 2 that is designed to help men improve their flexibility.
“There are some men who come to yoga, but they might feel a little intimidated because women are generally more flexible,” she said. ”Yoga is not for the flexible, it’s for those of us who aren’t always flexible.”
The Health and Leisure Mart also serves an important function for organizations likePride North of 55, who currently don’t have any office space or a brick and mortar operation in Thompson.
While this group does have a presence online, organizer Coral Bielak said they still use every opportunity they can to recruit volunteers and spread awareness for issues that continue to affect members of the LGBTQ+ community in the north.
“We’re here just to let people know that we are out there, that there is support and to try to get volunteers and hold bigger events,” she said, referencing the group’s upcoming pride march and barbecue on Sept 22.
The rest of this year’s Health and Leisure Mart booths featured the likes of: the Boreal Discovery Centre, Aurora Dance Academy, Thompson Karate Club, Operation Red Nose, the Thompson Writers’ Guild and the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre.