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Golfers to tee off for at-risk youth in Morinville

Jessica Martel Charity Golf Tournament fundraiser will support the foundation's Inspire Program
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A golfer practices his swing prior to the inaugural Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation Charity Golf Tournament held in 2021. The 2022 event takes place Aug. 18 at Cardiff Golf & Country Club. JESSICA MARTEL MEMORIAL FOUNDATION/Photo

A memorial golf tournament honouring the late Jessica Martel is set to take place Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Cardiff Golf & Country Club. 

The 2nd annual Jessical Martel Memorial Foundation Charity Golf Tournament, played at the 18-hole semi-private club, is one of the foundation's major annual fundraisers designed to support Jessie's House in Morinville and break the cycle of violence. Martel was murdered by her common-law husband in 2009.

Funding from the event will additionally support the Inspire Program, a partnership between the foundation and Four Winds Public School in Morinville. The Inspire Program supports at-risk youth in Grades 5 to 8 who identify as female. 

The year-long leadership program explores and educates youth on numerous topics: healthy relationships, bullying, self-image, societal pressures, wellness, and violence avoidance. 

“We really want to empower students in the community to make good decisions, realize their self-worth, and break the cycle of violence. This program does that. If we can teach them about healthy relationships, they will grow up to lead fulfilling lives,” said Marla Poelzer, the foundation's executive director.  

Inspire is geared to but not exclusive to Indigenous students. Poelzer said Indigenous children and youth are more likely to be victimized compared to non-Indigenous peers. 

A Government of Canada Victims of Crime Research Digest states Indigenous people are three times more likely to be victimized compared to non-Indigenous people. Statistics for children and teens are fuzzy, yet the website also cites a 2001 Dumont-Smith study noting: “children exposed to violence are 10 to 17 times more likely to have serious emotional and behavioural problems compared to children raised in a non-violent home environment.”  

This campaign was started after Four Winds School identified youth at risk in abusive relationships. 

“We want to prevent abuse and help them understand abuse is not normal. In some cases, adults have been abused themselves and this program is part of the prevention. There may be children living with abuse and they haven’t identified it. This gives them information,” Poelzer said. 

Initially, the program will accept 10 at-risk youth identifying with any sexuality: cis, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or pansexual. 

“A big educational component will be helping them identify who in their life has a healthy relationship and is a positive figure.” 

The golf tournament starts at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast for golfers, followed by a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity MLA Dale Nally is the special guest, however, he won’t be sinking any balls. Nally will be set up at the ninth hole barbecuing for golfers. 

“This is his second year. Dale is a big supporter of the foundation and Jessie’s House. He’s been instrumental in getting funding and he volunteers all the time. He’s a big advocate and it made sense to bring him in,” said Poelzer. 

For more information on either the charity golf tournament or Inspire Program, call 780-939-2870 or email [email protected]

Anna Borowiecki

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