Over 30 per cent of Canadian youth under the age of 18 cannot afford to play an organized sport, according to KidSport Canada.
Dave Lieskovsky, committee chair of KidSport Penticton, thinks that number is likely higher in Penticton, and expects even more local families will be struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s why KidSport is saying their ninth annual Give the Gift of Sport fundraising campaign could be their most crucial fundraiser yet.
Running until Jan. 4, 2021, KidSports’s fundraiser aims to get more kids off the sidelines and into the game.
Lieskovsky has been involved with KidSport since 1993 and said Penticton has historically been very supportive of minor sports. In 2019, KidSport Penticton was able to provide registration fee grants for 137 kids.
“Over the years, community members are seeing how sport has such a positive impact on the development of our kids,” he said. “At the same time, they understand that so many families don’t have the resources to support them. And now that COVID-19 has had a further impact, this need for funds has increased even more.”
KidSport typically covers registration fees for low-income families, however, they will sometimes help families with money for equipment as well.
The pandemic has put a halt on most sports, and Lieskovsky said that includes KidSport Penticton fundraising efforts.
“Currently some sports are slowly coming back, so we need to catch up as they come back,” said Lieskosvky. “And we are expecting a much larger demand for funding as we approach a full return as so many families have had financial setbacks in the meantime. Now we need support more than ever.”
Jamie Ferguson, chair of KidSport Canada, said donating to KidSport obviously helps kids but can also have a big impact on the community, as sports can be key in a child’s development.
“Organized sport provides our children with so many benefits. We know it can help them be healthier, but it can also help them with things like their education and social development,” Ferguson said. “In essence, sport can provide our children with a head start on life. At KidSport we believe every child deserves that chance.”
Since its creation in 1993, KidSport has disbursed over $84M and helped over 930,000 kids from coast to coast receive grants and sport introduction programming.
Residents can donate online at KidSport.ca/GiftofSport.