Dale Loutit may be new to recreation programming with the Town of Hay River but she has experience and education in the field.
And that background has given her an appreciation of how important recreation is for a community.
Recreation means an improved quality of life for people, she said. “Just to be happy to have those things that people can do. And it brings everyone together in a community.”
Loutit is also starting to get a better sense of how the Don Stewart Recreation Centre is the heart of the community.
“It’s a great feeling,” she said.
Loutit began working as the town’s recreation programmer on Nov. 9.
She did not move from anywhere to take up the position.
“I’m actually born and raised in Hay River,” she said. “I’m from here.”
For the past eight years, she worked with the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority – the last six years as a personal outcome support worker at the assisted living facility and two years before that as a recreation therapist aide for older people at Woodland Manor.
She also gained experience in recreation while living in Fort Liard, where she spent a year as an aquatics supervisor and then was hired as the recreation programmer for the hamlet after finishing college about 10 years ago.
That was Red Deer College in Alberta, where she completed a two-year diploma program in recreation, tourism and community development.
Her education in recreation still continues online.
“I ended up taking part-time studies and working toward my degree in human services through Athabasca University,” she said. “I’m almost there now finally.”
Loutit explained that her bachelor of arts in human services program is wide-ranging.
“It kind of encompasses everything that you deal with when working with human beings from welfare to recreation to everything,” she said.
Her work toward a degree and her career in recreation took a back seat for a time as she dealt with personal tragedy – the loss of two infant children.
Loutit, who said she is very open in talking about that part of her past, explained personal loss affects people in different ways.
“It kind of stops you,” she said, adding that she stayed away from a recreation career as she healed from her loss.
“I think I would have gone into it a lot sooner, and then those positions would have come up throughout that time,” she said. “But when you go through that type of thing, you lose yourselves sometimes. I’m at that point in my life, like the timing of this is amazing to find myself and be OK. And to show people that you can get through (it) no matter what happens.”
Loutit, who has a five-year-old daughter, said she always missed working in recreation and was happy when the opportunity arose with the Town of Hay River.
“It’s amazing how things happen in your life when you’re ready,” she said.
However, she admits to being a little bit scared in returning to recreation after being out of the field, particularly whether people might have degrees compared to her diploma.
“So I was a little bit nervous about getting it,” she said of the job with the Town of Hay River. “But I was really excited when I did get it.”
Loutit said, despite her nervousness, she’s knows she is capable of doing the job.
She is now excited to be part of the team working with the town.
“We really do have a good group of people that are all here and we’re all here for the same thing,” she said, explaining that is to provide the best experience for users of the town’s recreation facilities.
Her job includes scheduling for the arena, the community hall, ball fields and other town facilities but not the aquatic centre.
In her role, she also creates and organizes various programs.
“It’s providing a better quality of life, where people can get out and do things,” she said of her role. “Where you can go out and do fun things.”