BigRock Aikikai students are encouraged to be active in their communities. Adult students and parents of younger students do community based volunteering (such as at the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and Inn from the Cold). The dojo supports this community based volunteering by offering students reduced training fees for their efforts.
For more information about getting involved in our dojo organized volunteering, please contact our volunteer coordinator through our contact form by selecting "Volunteer Inquiries" as the subject.
The dojo recognizes, supports and encourages students under the age of 18 to be community-minded through the Youth Character Development Program (CDP). Students are directed first, to participate in positive activities. When this positive participation becomes second nature they have evolved into positive role models. Finally, students have become leaders when they can actively engage others toward positive participation. The CDP program is open to everyone. It’s not mandatory until students make an application for senior ranks (brown belt and higher).
"As a student of BigRock Aikikai I understand the importance of community involvement. Every Christmas, though my mom's work, we collect money and adopt a family in need. We take the money and try to buy everything on their wish list. This could be anything from toys to clothes or electronics and always food. If there is any money left over we buy food for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. I have volunteered with the Friends of Fish Creek. We used to walk our dog in Fish Creek Park so we would help in the annual clean up, picking up garbage around the park. We have adopted two cats from the Calgary Humane Society and I have bought stuffed animals for kids at the Alberta Children's Hospital. I also shovel my neighbors sidewalk and driveway.
Volunteering in the community and being a part of Aikido gives me a sense of belonging and achievement. Aikido training promotes good citizenship, which entails becoming involved in activities that improve the community around us." ~ Alex
"I volunteer at Inn From the Cold with my mom and dad. I enjoy community service. I know as I get older I will need to volunteer more, because I am a member of this community. I like helping others and Inn From the Cold lets me feel like I make a difference. It is not hard, in fact I find it fun at times, we get to meet new people and talk with them and share a meal with them. In fact, I met a nice lady from Mexico who had to leave her home or else she would have been killed. Hearing her story made me want to help even more. So now I help with the cooking and setting up the room for their supper. We know that the folks using Inn From the Cold do not have much so my mom tries to take little things to the people using this service. We take things like winter mittens and scarfs, Kleenex and shampoo, soap and toothbrushes too. Anything that can help. I hope more people will volunteer, because it really makes a difference and if we all lend a hand, we can really make a big difference in our own community and make it a better place for everyone to live." ~ Jordan
"Since I started participating in the character development program, I've been given more and more chances to give back to my community. For anyone to train successfully in aikido, they must be aware that a large portion of the martial art is learning compassion and respect for others. Community service is a way to strengthen that, so it's easy to see why CDP becomes a requirement for senior belts.
I have been able to give back to my community in several ways so far. I have sold some of my things so I could use the money earned to donate to the Calgary Humane Society. The things I didn't sell I gave to Goodwill. That felt very good, as I often have a hard time getting rid of things, even if I don't use them anymore. Seeing them go to people who really, truly need them, as well as helping animals (and getting rid of clutter!) made me feel good about myself, and it was a very rewarding experience.
I also participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Celebration of Service with the Home Depot. During this I walked around North Glenmore Park with my Dad and his co-workers, picking up garbage. Doing so helps keep the Glenmore Reservoir, our source of drinking water, clean. Along with this it will keep the park clean for visitors (human or animal). I have volunteered in the Reading Buddies program at the Calgary Public Library, where a volunteer and a younger kid are paired up to read and look around the library for books. The desired result of this program is to help kids become more comfortable reading aloud or to spark a love of reading. Some of the kids aren't so easy to work with as a lot of them don't like to read, but it's so rewarding when they finally do like something! Doing this was one of the things that made me realize I want to be a teacher. I will be participating in this program again this year.
So, for anyone who thinks community service is boring or just plain not worth the time... you're wrong! There are so many ways to make it fun, whether it's working with a friend or just enjoying the fact that you are helping someone. You will be able to develop your character, including compassion, respect and patience which will help you in aikido training. It’s the best way to feel good about yourself while helping others at the same time." ~ Shaylyn
"Aikido training is more than training body and mind, but also training in character. In addition to training techniques and self discipline inside the dojo, the Character Development Program (CDP) helps build good citizenship through serving others at home, in school and community. It's important for Aikido students to do this not only because it builds character but shapes your personality and sincerity as you do community service. As part of my CDP, the community services that I participated in consist of volunteering at my church, seniors home, fundraising and special events. Every two years my church has a Vacation Bible School and I always help with the decorations and setup. Once a month or two I visit the Wing Kei Care Centre (seniors home) to help residents who are not very mobile to the Chapel for Sunday Service from their rooms and back, and I also chat with them in Chinese as they mostly speak Chinese. I have shaved my head three or four times for the Shave For The Brave fundraising. I also recently helped sort Christmas hampers for the homeless and less fortunate at The Mustard Seed, and participated in the H2Go Compassion Water of Life fundraising activity." ~ Isaac
"I love Aikido. Not only do I train in the martial art itself, but I am also given many opportunities to give back to the community. In the past I have volunteered for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank and the Salvation Army, sorting food and toys for people in need. It was a great experience and there were lots of friendly and kind people there as well. Also, for my first level of CDP (Character Development Program), I have volunteered my time and effort to other worthwhile organizations such as the Bethany Care Society, Calgary Drop-In Centre, Calgary Learning Centre, and the YWCA. For my second level of CDP, I am starting to organize other community work for me to participate in. I really enjoy going to volunteer as it gives me a chance to give back to my community. All kids should be given the opportunity to be a part of their community like this." ~ Liam
"The community service we have been involved with includes Serve Day, Locks of Love and volunteering at our church. We also shovel our neighbors (on both sides) walks in the winter. I like helping and doing things for people. I would have volunteered anyway, but having the CDP program to do it for was an added bonus. Serve Day is a day that we donated our time and abilities to others that couldn't do things for themselves. The first year, we helped a lady replace her rotten deck. The second year, Dad was in charge of the BBQ for the Serve Day volunteers. Our whole family helped prepare a meal for about 450 volunteers. My sisters and I were able to help buy the groceries and set up the tables. I got to cook burgers!!! It was a lot of fun, but hot and tiring. I stood by the hot griddle cooking burgers for about 1 1/2 hours. We have cut our hair and donated it to Locks of Love, twice, to make wigs for cancer patients. We also had a fundraiser. We raised $2320 which went to the Tom Baker Cancer Center. It was so cool that all our friends and family were so generous! I also volunteer in the 2-3 year old Sunday School class at the 11 am service at my church. Kaley volunteers in the 4-5 year old class. (Morgan has to wait a couple more years, but she would like to do it too.) I have been doing this for couple of years now. We help get them their snacks. We help them with their lesson and to do their craft of the day. We play with them and take them to the bathroom." ~ Gina, Kaley & Morgan
“My brother Mitchell and I LOVE sports so we do community work by volunteering with KidSport. KidSport helps kids to play sports by helping with the cost and equipment. Throughout the year we collect used equipment. This year we organized our annual KidSport Yard Sale. We have done it twice now and each year we raised over $1100.00. We help fit people with used sports equipment and they donate what they can afford. We have a barbeque running, bouncy castles, and a mini soccer arena for kids to play in. Last Christmas we did an Awesome Allowance fundraiser. We set up at the recreation center and gave away chocolates and candy canes. We had advertised to let kids know they could donate their allowance to help other kids play sports. The last few years we have participated in library gardening. We pull weeds, prune, pick up garbage, and clean up. For two years now we’ve been doing snake monitoring. That’s where we count, measure, and mark, all of the snakes captured in the traps. This helps the scientists understand the snake population.” ~ Matthew & Mitchell
“The CDP or Character Development Program is a program that encourages students of Aikido to get involved in their community and to show leadership. Over the many years I have participated in this program I have on numerous occasions given back to my community in several ways. I have organized several food drives for the Okotoks interfaith food bank. I have also had numerous toy drives for the Alberta Children's Hospital. I participated in several community graffiti clean ups. Lastly, and on an ongoing bases I engage in community garbage pick up. CDP is a worthwhile program that gets kids to care about their community, self and others.” ~ Taia
“In the beginning I gave part of my allowance to The Children’s Hunger Fund. I also shoveled snow for several seniors in our neighborhood. I help my Grandmother with any tasks that she cannot do for herself. I volunteer at Canada Olympic Park as a Camp Torch Councilor and Ski/Snowboard Instructor, and at the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank with my parents. I love to teach kids of all ages.” ~ Dakota
“My family and some of my friends had a bake sale at the South Fish Creek Christmas Craft Fair. We sold tons of cookies to raise money for Kids Cancer Care. I have also volunteered for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. You have to be 12 years old to work in the warehouse, so we collected donations at a downtown location instead. In my own neighborhood, I help out a family by playing and looking after their kids. Last summer, my family went on a trip visiting National Parks in the U.S., I did the Junior Ranger Program in most of the parks where I picked up garbage and learned how to protect nature. ~ Dylan