Community steps for kids to get into sports

KidSport Penticton receives a lot of support from the business community, including Rona, to raise money for kids.

MORE FAMILIES IN Penticton are leaning on KidSport to get their kids in the game.

With sports becoming increasingly harder for families to afford, a Penticton group is set on getting kids back in the game.

“We understand the value of sport to the growth of the kids,” said KidSport Penticton chair Dave Lieskovsky.

Recognizing that children develop self esteem through sport is just one of the benefits KidSport sees.

“They learn about team work, goal setting. They are going to become better kids because of their participation in sport,” said Lieskovsky.

More families however are finding the need to lean on the provincial and local chapter to get their kids playing minor sports. KidSport B.C.’s top three funded sports were soccer, hockey and gymnastics. Those sports were also the top supported by the KidSport Penticton chapter. A total of $37,000 was given to 131 kids in hockey (44), soccer (32) and gymnastics (17) as of Dec. 12. Other sports that families sought money for included swimming, lacrosse and karate.

“Our stats indicate that the need to support low income families has continued to grow almost each and every year since 2001,” said Lieskovsky. “However in some of those years, we could not accommodate all of the funding requests.”

When asked if there was a coincidence with Penticton matching the top three provincial sports, Lieskovsky said no.

“Penticton is a very strong hockey community. Soccer is one of those sports that has huge growth and huge levels of participation. Soccer is a little bit more affordable to access,” he said. “There’s a lot of reasons for that breakdown. We are very typical across the province. Gymnastics I think as a third I don’t think that is common. Gymnastics is a high-level participation activity. We have two gymnastics clubs (Springers Gymnastics Adventures and FitKidz Gymnastics) in town that are very well run.”

Lieskovsky said they expect a need to increased fundraising. The biggest fundraiser for the chapter, which started in 1999, is the Rona KidSport Golf Tournament, which this year raised just over $30,000. That event has been going strong for 15 years.

Not only the corporate sponsors, Rona donates thousands of dollars. Local businesses are also on board. KidSport chapters also benefit from provincial and national fundraising initiatives. Loblaws, which owns the Superstore raised $1,857.13 and Triple O earned $1,760 to help KidSport.

“They are very generous in their time as well. Local businesses are really what drives the majority of our funding,” said Lieskovsky, who added that all money raised locally stays in Penticton. “It’s pretty impressive overall that we do have a lot of support. It’s taken a lot of years to get the profile to the point where we do have that support locally.”

Lieskovsky said it is reassuring that the community is supporting low income families. As he put it, for many, many years, there just wasn’t any vehicle to support families.

Anyone interested in donating to KidSport Penticton can do so by contacting them directly to arrange a payment (kidsportpenticton@gmail.com) or donating online through the KidSport BC website – www.kidsportcanada.ca/british-columbia/.

Follow Western News Sports editor Emanuel Sequeira on Twitter @pentictonsports.