BY DAY KEN FORREST IS DIRECTOR OF GROWTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES AT THE CITY OF FREDERICTON. AT NIGHT YOU CAN FIND HIM, HIS WIFE AND HIS TWO KIDS AT THE YMCA OF FREDERICTON.
“Monday night we were here for karate. Tonight I’m here for basketball. Tomorrow there’s more karate. Thursday’s hip-hop dancing, Friday’s basketball and Saturday’s gymnastics,” he says with a smile. Forrest and his children became Y members in 2013 when the family moved back to Fredericton from Saint John. “The great thing about the Y is that it lets kids experiment with sports and recreation activities they wouldn’t try otherwise,” says Forrest. “My son wanted to try karate and I said, ‘Why not!’ Because we have a membership he tried it and he loves it.”
Trying out new things is an important value in the Forrest household. Every year, Ken and his son go on a trip around the world. So far, the duo has visited Iceland, New York, Jordan, Egypt and southeast Asia. “Each year, we go as local as we can to soak up the real deal. This year, we’re going to drive across South Africa by flying into Cape Town and working our way up to Johannesburg over three weeks.”
These travels let Forrest share his passion for discovering the world while spending quality time with his children. “You get a really interesting relationship with your kids when you spend that kind of time with them. Last summer, we were in rural Laos and we had to figure out how to get from the airport to the bus station to take a bus across the border to Thailand. My son’s mind was wide open to it all.”
For the Forrest family there are no boundaries, either between countries or between neighborhoods, which is where the YMCA comes in.
“My son comes here with a buddy, a friend he would have never met other than through the Y. They go to different schools and live on different sides of the river, but the friendship came from here.”
The Y is so important in the family’s life, his kids are currently looking at opportunities to get involved even more. His son wants to become a basketball referee and a lifeguard, says Forrest. “He sees it as an opportunity to work and to give back, because it’s something he’s passionate about.”
While the family lives an active and busy lifestyle, it also gives Forrest, a busy professional with a demanding job, time to himself.
“It’s a place where I can focus on my own health and my own wellbeing,” he says. “The Y gives me a chance to hit the gym while my family does their thing.”
From a professional point of view, he says he is able to witness the direct impact of the Y in the city’s social fabric. “The Y’s reach extends out to every corner of the city,” he says. “It provides opportunities for kids and adults to get active while meeting new people. That’s so important.