Physical activity can be a solution to many social problems: it helps improve mental health, physical health, can help prevent type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.
But its role is also social: physical activity promotes a sense of belonging, team spirit and inclusion.
For 20 years, Luc Richer, via the organization Youth motivation, undertakes to use physical activity to prevent dropping out of school, sedentary lifestyle and delinquency among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and contributes to the integration of young immigrants through sports and outdoor activities and by making them live meaningful experiences. We therefore spoke with him in order to get to know the backdrop of his body.
Daniel: Introduce us Youth Motivaction: what is its mission and where did the idea of overcoming school dropout through sport and the outdoors come from?
Luc: Motivaction Jeunesse was created to fight against sedentary lifestyle, delinquency and dropping out of school, but also to promote the integration of young immigrants through sport and the outdoors.
The mission has evolved a lot over its many years of existence. I myself was a little dysfunctional in the past and had a difficult teenage years, but sport has managed to hold onto my life and keep me hopeful. I immediately felt that sport was a very promising vector: I therefore wanted to create something in my image and share my passion for sport and the outdoors.
Daniel: You have received a host of prizes and mentions but only from 2011, despite the fact that you have been working within Motivaction Jeunesse since 1992. It is a lot of work in the shadows, don't you think?
Luc: I don't see it that way. The awards and recognitions are simply a pat on the back… our actions are not motivated by the awards but by the young people who accompany us. It should also be mentioned that I am the conductor of our team; all of its members deserve these awards as much as I do.
We have persevered enormously and we are currently harvesting what we are sowing. There aren't a lot of successes that come easily; we must work to achieve our ends and that is what we have done and continue to do every day.
Daniel: Over the years, you have favored the integration of young immigrants and disadvantaged young people. How do we use sport and the outdoors to promote integration?
Luc: Sport and the outdoors are unifying activities in close contact with nature. You have to put yourself into action, you have to move forward and during the advancement, you think a lot. Sport and the outdoors give you confidence, energy and allow you to develop skills.
Also, to fit in, you have to meet people. The group effect is super favorable and we use it a lot in our activities. We allow more sedentary young people to meet other people, but by moving.
Immigrants, on the other hand, do not know our winter sports and they have the chance to integrate thanks to that. It allows them to practice French more, to get out of town, to meet people, to move, etc. We contribute enormously to their dynamism.
Daniel: We can think that your challenges are purely physical, but basically, it goes much further than that?
Luc: Indeed, it is not only recreational but a global process. In fact, we use sport and the outdoors as a vehicle in our psychosocial interventions.
When we practice physical activity, social status is invisible and it is our mission to make everything more accessible to all. We therefore help young people to become independent so that they can reproduce their favorite activities afterwards.
Daniel: the issue of integration is important to you; what more can the company do? What are the next steps in terms of integration and how can Motivaction Jeunesse contribute to this?
Luc: We have to supervise our young people more. Keep in mind that it takes about 3 years before an immigrant becomes comfortable in his host country! We have seen a lot of progress in recent years, but we still have awareness work to do.
It will probably take government decisions in the face of the place we give to these young people; we have to be a more tolerant people because later on, we will benefit from the wealth of these people.
Daniel: What is your biggest personal challenge at Motivaction Jeunesse?
Luc: Keep the flame always lit and fight every day to finance our ideas, our dreams, etc.
I will not hide from you that Motivaction Jeunesse has a demanding mandate since we must constantly justify our actions, even after so many years… and it is legitimate. We must be resilient since we are at the heart of social entrepreneurship.
Daniel: What are your next projects at Motivaction Jeunesses?
Luc: The big project is a long-term one. Indeed, we must look at building an interesting succession in order to bring new ideas and give a different color to the organization. I put a lot of energy personally and I would like to give the field tasks to the youth in order to devote my free time to the creation of new projects. Writing a book is also in the plans and we are on the cusp of signing some big, interesting projects!