Umoja Community Mosaic began in 2010 as a drop-in soccer program called Soccer Without Boundaries. Soccer Without Boundaries operated as a small grassroots organization with a big impact on social inclusion. Through soccer, we have built healthy communities – we have created an environment that allows young people to shine, with a motto, “Everyone is welcome”.
In 2020, we widened the scope of our services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and increased our organization’s mandate. We changed our name to Umoja Community Mosaic to reflect this expansion using the word “Umoja”, meaning “unity” and “belonging” in Swahili.
In response to the voices coming from the communities we serve, we began a culturally appropriate food and nutrition program for low income and underserved Calgarians. We are also continuing to provide after-school programming and tutoring. In addition to our weekly soccer programming and summer soccer camps, we are planning a girls soccer program (for older youth) to begin hopefully in the new year. We have also formally incorporate anti-racism into all of our work, along with a focus on mental health into our regular soccer programming.
A genuine sense of belonging is derived from the freedom to define one’s life that aligns with their values, identities, gifts and talents in mutual reciprocity with other community members. The ability to work, play, learn and create in a way that accentuates each person’s highest ideals is the goal of a loved community. Because of this, purely policy-level change cannot do the full work of emancipation. Our focus depends on the creation of spaces where freedom to self-invent in the context of community is explicitly supported, and barriers to participation are minimized.