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Victory off the court

The 2022 Canada Games hosted a ton of on-court, on pitch and on-field competition. One athlete at the Games, a member of the Dalhousie University men’s volleyball team, made sure to contribute off the court too. 

Derrick Ejeckam, part of Team Newfoundland and Labrador in the 2022 Canada Games held in Niagara, Ont., visited Niagara Children’s Centre. The Centre provides rehabilitation and support services, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to children and youth younger than 20 years old with physical, developmental and communicative delays and disabilities. 

The opportunity came when Ejeckam was asked by his Team Newfoundland coach to visit Niagara Children’s Centre. There, he delivered over 200 items of art supplies such as construction paper, coloured pencils and crayons. The items will be used for family-centred treatment, rehabilitation and support services to assist children and youth.

“My coach came up to me after one of our games and he spoke to me saying that out of everyone on my team, he really wants me to be the one to go forward and do it,” said Ejeckam.

As children at the centre struggle with varying health challenges, even the smallest tasks Ejeckam completed could provide mental and physical boosts for each patient’s recovery. Those were some of his most vivid memories from the Games.

“Some of the kids had issues speaking and issues with small hand movements,” he said. ”So, for example, one of the things that we donated was construction paper and the kids learning how to rip the construction paper helped them to regain their hand movement.” 

Derrick Ejeckam, third from right, volunteered at the Niagara Children’s Centre during the 2022 Canada Games in Niagara, Ont. Ejeckam is a member of Team Newfoundland and Labrador’s men’s volleyball team. (TeamNL) 

Team Newfoundland donated the supplies, which Ejeckam helped transport and demonstrate to the children how they are used.

“It was great to see the kids and it’s great that we’re able to help them out. I saw what they’re going through and you just feel good [helping them],” said Ejeckam.

Ejeckam said any donation helps the Centre cut operating costs and invest the money elsewhere. For him, it menat a lot to help do tha.

“[Staff] said they use the bubbles a lot to help the kids do blowing motions. It just helps these kids to gain a sense that they can fix whatever issues they have and they can start to live more comfortably than they currently are,” he said.

Well-rounded Games experience

On top of his worthwhile experiences off the court, Ejeckam earned an eighth-place finish in the Canada Games with Team Newfoundland. He said the experience was great and something he had wanted to do for a long time.

“Ever since I was in Grade 10, I knew I was Canada Games age. It was really just a big goal mine when going through my volleyball career,” said Ejeckam. “Of course, it got cancelled for one year and postponed, but then when I found out that my age group would still be able to play, it was great. [I] always wanted to represent Newfoundland and [it was] overall just a great experience.”

The Canada Games gave the six-foot-three engineering major an opportunity to work on his game in a competitive atmosphere over the summer. 

“[I kept] working on anything I was struggling on during the downswing and it kept me in shape and kept me just ready to go into a quick transition to Dal,” said Ejeckam.

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