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20 Mar, Monday
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Montreal Families

Monkland community centre is a hidden gem

Nestled in the heart of N.D.G., between Concordia University’s Loyola campus and the strip of trendy restaurants on Monkland Ave., is a large but seemingly unknown hub for social, cultural and sporting events. The Monkland Community Center offers several inexpensive services, programs and activities throughout the year.

From noon to 5 p.m. on Aug. 26, the centre will be hosting an open house to inform the public about its services. The event will feature food, music and a magic show for kids. Visitors will be able to check out information booths and watch demonstrations that will preview the upcoming fall schedule of events, services and sports programs. Some of these include martial arts, yoga, dance and a sneak peek at the community centre’s annual Halloween Haunted House.

While its complete fall schedule has yet to be released, a new dance class and math tutorial service have been confirmed. Break City is a youth break-dancing class, while Mathorium is a tutoring service that has been available all summer, but will be fully launched in September. Tutorials will be held on Mondays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $80 per month and the first month will be free.

The centre also offers ongoing martial arts, yoga and dance classes for members of all ages. The Montreal Kendo Club teaches Kendo lessons on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $40 per month or $350 per year. Kendo is a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed swords.

Karate lessons are taught to those aged 7 and up on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for $30 per month. Tai-Chi is taught on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. or Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

If you hang around the centre long enough, you’re bound to run into Lerry Williams, the Director of the Sharkx Basketball Program, which teaches boys and girls aged 5-14 in three, 16-week sessions in the fall, winter and summer. The cost is $150 per session.

Williams says the program goes beyond teaching the kids how to play basketball; they also learn valuable life skills. “Our programs and camps are very structured; kids learn about respect, leadership, discipline and how to work together,” Williams says.

The upcoming season will introduce a house league that will split members into two teams: practices and games will take place on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for those 8-12, and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for those 5-7. On both days, there will be 25 minutes of skills training, which includes everything from dribbling techniques to footwork as well as an hour-long game against another team.

Recently, the Sharkx program received a donation from its main sponsor, Stelpro electrical heating company. The program’s young members were honoured during an event with snacks and games. They also received a donation from another one of its sponsors, Realty SBK.

In addition to the Sharkx basketball program, Williams runs a summer basketball camp, as well as regular school break camps in winter and at spring break. Activities include swimming, outdoor games, arts and crafts, bowling, trips to the Montreal Science Centre, treasure hunts, hip-hop classes and more.

Williams encourages his students to volunteer and he accompanies them as they go door-to-door to collect food and clothes for organizations like N.D.G. Food Depot, Chez Doris, Project Chance and Heads & Hands.

“We’re very fortunate to have what we have, but just by looking around the world, we can see that other countries are not as fortunate, so it’s important to teach the kids that they need to give back to their communities,” Williams says.

The centre also offers three spaces available for rent, including the gymnasium and two meeting rooms. Each space comes with tables and chairs, as well as access to a kitchen. The spaces accommodate large groups, making them ideal for birthday parties, showers or other events.

Established in 1988, the Monkland Community Centre is funded solely by revenue generated by its services, programs and rental of its gym and other rooms. The centre also provides support through fundraisers and food drives for organizations like Make A Wish Foundation, Transition Auberge, Elizabeth House, N.D.G. Food Depot, and more.

For more information, visit monklandcommunitycenter.ca.

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