CROSS TRAINING: GEARED TO MAKING A DIFFERENCE
In the athletic realm, cross training can involve a mix of aerobic, strength training and flexibility workouts that lead to whole body fitness. Transferring that concept to the Christian realm yields a mix of activity that can provide young people with a firm grounding in Christian values, community support and involvement. Here at St Martin’s children and young people can experience the benefits of Cross Training offered every Sunday throughout the fall, winter and spring of the year. Hannah Marsh, St. Martin’s Director of Youth and Family Ministries is the inventive point person responsible for coining the name and delivering the Cross Training program. She brings a wealth of wisdom, teaching and coaching experience to the post.
Born and raised in Ottawa with deep roots in the Ottawa Valley on her Mom’s side and British roots on her Dad’s side, Hannah is a “McKellarite” having completed her public and secondary schooling at Broadview Public and Nepean High. She then attended North Bay’s Nippissing University, renowned and respected for the excellence of its teaching and nursing programs, where she earned an Honours BA and a Bachelor of Education. Upon graduation in 2013 Hannah headed overseas for teaching assignments in several East London schools leaving behind her St Martin`s church family and her own family who have been a mainstay part of parish life for the past fifteen years.
In considering the documented fall away in church going by young families and declining parishioner numbers, Hannah is guardedly optimistic that formal Christian religion is adapting to the changing times, albeit slowly. Given that parents want the best for their children, Hannah has no problem agreeing that despite the overloaded schedules of young families, building in some exposure to formal religion is important. Even though many parents are themselves the product of burgeoning Sunday School classes in the 1960’s that grounded them in the values they now raise their children by, they have stepped away from attending in part she feels because religion strikes them as being outdated. “It’s not a popular thing”. Hannah herself did not attend Sunday School as such, but, throughout her younger formative years grew up with kids from blended, single parent and same gender families all of which helps her keep a pulse on current times and realities.
Hannah looked on line for inspiration on what to call the program seeking something that offered a transition from the more formal, rigid weekday school classroom and in the process opening up a lot of doors that don`t have to be labelled school. Her experience teaching Muslim, Hindu and Christian students in East London schools affirmed for Hannah the role that Cross Training can play in reinforcing Christian values here in her home community.
A key takeaway for St Martin`s Cross Training is that it’s about way more than just bible stories. It is about community, serving and about Jesus being more than just a teacher. A key message to parents and parishioners from Hannah: Don`t be afraid to get involved. Involvement is essential, otherwise, the children and young people will conclude it is not important.