• Ashley Gagnon

  • Ashley Gagnon M.PT., B.Kin. (AT), B.A
    Associate director
    Bison Sports and Recreation, Children's Programs

    204-474-6584
    ashley.gagnon@umanitoba.ca

Learn more about Ashley

"She is such a fun and positive person to work with and be around. Her personality and character are truly infectious.”

- Rachel Cumpsty, program supervisor

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

The opportunity for collaborative work. The capacity of our team is outstanding.  I feel so lucky to be surrounded by a passionate, energetic, and engaged team. Every problem is solvable and project possible when you have the support of such a hardworking and determined group of people working collaboratively. Each team member is celebrated for their uniqueness and how their individual experiences can positively influence our work. To be able to work with a large group of people with the same inevitable goal of creating positive experiences for our staff and customers is so special. 

When did you start working with the programs?

My first year with the programs was in 2006 as a program supervisor. I grew up outside of Winnipeg and prior to my first day, my only experience with Mini U had been from a distance. I remember seeing groups of campers and leaders enjoying games in green spaces on campus and thinking that it would be a fun summer job. I had no idea of the impact the programs would have on my career. I was immediately welcomed into the Mini U family and have been lucky enough to call it my home since that time.  

I spent three summers as a program supervisor, and began in my current role in 2010 (with a short hiatus since that time for Graduate School). 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

I grew up leading children’s programming. My time teaching dance and swimming lessons inspired me to a pursue a career that included influencing opportunities for young people to be physically active. It was in pursuit of this passion that I was drawn to Mini U.

It is the opportunities I have had to influence the integration of our Aquatics area that I am most proud of. Although once felt to be separate, we have aimed to streamline the experience of our Fall/Winter/Spring Aquatics customers to align with that of our summer camp participants. We have aligned our staff recruitment, hiring, training, and expectations with that of all Mini U staff. Our lifeguards and swim leaders are now as much a part of the larger Mini U team as leaders in other positions. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

I hope that I can help to create an environment where people are reminded of their strengths, feel appreciated for their efforts and are given opportunities to challenge themselves in ways that are meaningful to them. I hope that our participants and leaders will have the confidence to try new things and release any expectations of perfection in favour of expecting “failure” and treating it as an opportunity to learn. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

I love the diversity of my position. From trying to create fun and engaging games for a training session of 200 leaders, to assisting a young camper in understanding the consequences of their actions, to brainstorming the logistics for changes to part of our operational procedures, no two days are the same.

What is your favourite activity at Mini U?

I love our activity packages that are not based on mainstream team sports (Kinect-4 will always be a favourite!). It was Mini U that taught me that there are so many activities that I could participate in as part of a team that aren’t the ones I learnt in gym class as a child.  I think exposure to such a broad range of activities can create such valuable opportunities for our campers. Lifelong physical activity is so important and finding something that we enjoy and which allows us to feel successful is such an important part of that journey.

Learn more about Kaylee

"The positivity that Kaylee brings to our team is contagious. I always want to perform my best to reflect the work she’s put into developing me.”

- Chad Enns, program supervisor

What do you enjoy most about Mini U?

There is something really special about having the opportunity to witness the joy and excitement of the participants in our programs each day. Seeing a child make new friends, learn a new skill, receive a leadership card and laugh and play in an environment where I get to contribute, makes me fall in love with my job each and every day. 

I feel very fortunate to be a part of the magic that happens inside these walls day in and day out and to work with wonderful people that are more like friends than colleagues. 

When did you start working with the programs?

Unlike the rest of the leadership team, I did not work with Mini U Programs prior to my current position. As a student in the faculty I had observed from the sidelines the fun, fast paced environment and knew that this is where I wanted to be.  

Upon graduation in 2011, a spot on the team opened up and I was lucky enough to snag the sport program coordinator position and I couldn't be more grateful for this opportunity. 

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

Over the course of my time with Mini U Programs I have had the opportunity to experience many changes to our programs and structure.  It has been exciting to see the evolution of the programs and how those changes have continued to have a large impact for the program and its participants.  

Each year brings new challenges and opportunities for learning and growth which is one of my favorite parts of this position.  I have been involved with the implementation of our leadership model, creating and implementing sport curriculums and lesson plans, creation and elimination of programs, the building of new software scheduling systems, creating age specific experiences and re-imagining our hiring and training systems. 

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

It is my hope that we can create an inclusive environment where participants and leaders can feel comfortable being themselves and open their minds to dream about future possibilities. We are fortunate enough to run programming on the UM campus where you are surrounded by a diverse array of opportunities and programs and I hope that with our help, we can encourage them to learn something new, take risks, meet new friends, be silly and play and become a leader in some capacity. 

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

Spending time getting to know the people that you work with, developing an understanding of different working styles and preferences and setting goals and aspirations for our time working together is something that I really enjoy. I love seeing our leaders find success and confidence in themselves and their abilities not only here but in their personal and professional life as well.  

What is your favourite activity at Mini U?

Pinguard, tchoukball and trashketball are some of my favourite games to play.  

Learn more about Drew

“Drew becomes more impactful each and every year I get to work with him.”

- Emily Carey, program supervisor

What do you enjoy most about Mini U? 

Mini U has a work environment like no other. "Working really hard, while laughing" is a great way to describe it. I come to work knowing that I have an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life each day and that excites me.      

When did you start working with the programs?

I started in the summer of 2005. I was hooked immediately and continued to work for the program throughout the fall, winter and spring while I was a student at the university.  In 2007, I was given the opportunity to work as a program supervisor and began my position as a program coordinator in 2010.   

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

During my first couple of years as a program coordinator, a big part of what I did was helping to create recreational experiences for children participating in our school groups program during the fall, winter, spring. While this is still a big part of my role, my experience with Mini U has transformed into focusing more on the leadership and community side of the programs. I'm now a part of assisting in the creation of leadership program curriculums and lesson plans and helping to administer our low-income and Indigenous subsidy program.    

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

Before working here, I never felt that I was a part of something that was big and meaningful. I was welcomed and accepted with open arms immediately when starting here and celebrated for who I was. It has inspired me to do the same for others.   

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U?

The strides that individuals take while working here is awesome. The thing that I enjoy the most about leading at Mini U is watching someone's growth from their first day at Leader Week orientation to their final days as a leader.       

What is your favourite activity at Mini U?

Dodgeball. Hands down. 

 

Learn more about Lisa

“Lisa was an amazing fit for our Junior Bisons program as soon as she walked in the door. She is a great resource and collaborator on new concepts for youth development and strives to continually improve our programming. Lisa represents the Bisons brand perfectly in that she works hard, has fun, and always wants anything we do to be better.”

- Ken Bentley, head coach, Bisons women's volleyball team

 

What do you enjoy most about Mini U Programs and Junior Bisons?

My favourite part of our programs is building relationships. Building relationships with children, families and our staff is exciting and challenging. I also enjoy seeing children and youth living active and healthy lifestyles day in and day out.

When did you start working with the programs?

I started here at Bison Sports as the Junior Bisons coordinator 10 years ago. I have recently morphed into a new combined role of program coordinator for both Mini U Programs and Junior Bisons and am excited about this new adventure.

What experience do you have leading children’s programming?

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in children and youth sports programs through my whole life. I grew up playing every sport possible (hockey, volleyball, basketball, softball, track and field). I then went to school to become a physical education and health education teacher and ventured into that when I graduated from university in 2003. I only taught for a short year and realized I wanted to head back to school and pursue my passion for sports so I went back to pursue my master’s degree in sport management, graduating in 2007. From there I went on to work at various companies through the years in sport coordinator/coaching roles for Skyhawks Sports Academy, YMCA of Greater St Paul and then landed here at the University of Manitoba in the Junior Bisons coordinator role in 2011.

What experiences do you hope to create for participants and leaders of the program?

I hope to create an environment that is filled with fun and physical activity. I am a firm believer that kids and adults should move their bodies as much as possible every day. Physical activity creates happy minds and happy people and that is what we want here at the University of Manitoba.

What do you enjoy most about leading at Mini U and Junior Bisons?

My favourite part of leading within our programs is the people. I get to meet thousands of parents, youth and staff each year and it’s so exciting to see them grow and change and develop throughout the years within our programs.

What is your favourite activity at Mini U and Junior Bisons?

There are so many to pick from I can’t nail down one favourite. I am an avid team sport lover so anything with teammates is my favourite: hockey, volleyball, basketball, soccer just to name a few!