Ana Peasgood is the social media volunteer with the Prince George KidSport BC chapter, one of more than 300 volunteers in 150 communities.
KidSport Week is celebrated Sept. 7-14, 2020. Peasgood shared how a community youth hockey event in Terrace sparked an almost decade-long desire to help children access community sport.
“As a first-generation Canadian, our family didn’t have money to put towards sport when I was a child. But as a parent, I realized how important it was for children to have that positive relationship with their peers, their community and to see how sport can help children build confidence,” Peasgood said. “I watched a KidSport-supported team play hockey at a community event and noticed many of the children having fun and engaging with their friends. I wanted to make sure more children in my community had that opportunity, as some of our kids’ friends weren’t in sport, so I started to make donations through work.”
Last year was another record year for the KidSport BC program. It provided $2.1 million in grants, enabling 7,248 children to access quality sport programming. On average, grants are approximately $250 per child. In the North, this means 15 children in Chetwynd, 121 children in Prince George and 37 children in Terrace were supported by KidSport BC chapters to access a season of organized sport in their community.
There are 41 community chapters in British Columbia. This includes the provincial chapter, KidSport BC, which serves regions and communities without chapters. Peasgood has had the opportunity to contribute to a few chapters, noting, “When we moved to Chetwynd, I saw a need in the community for a KidSport chapter and became the founding chairperson. Being involved with the program gave me a way to help, but it also gave me a way to get to know my new community and make new friends. When we moved to Prince George two years ago, I looked for another opportunity with KidSport. It is really rewarding to see the smiling faces of children when they are playing sports!”
The Province has provided $400,000 annually to Sport BC to fund the KidSport BC program. In May 2019, government announced a one-time, $2.5-million investment over three years to Sport BC to expand KidSport programs. The investment was aimed at increasing participation by children who are often under-represented in sport, including children from lower-income families, Indigenous children, children and youth with disabilities, girls and newcomers to Canada.
On the impact KidSport can have for children, Peasgood said, “I really feel KidSport is about capacity building for our youth. In addition to playing games, kids are gaining confidence, becoming leaders, and families are able to get sports experience for their children without the stress and burden of paying registration fees if they can’t afford it.”
In Canada, one in three families can’t afford to register their children in sport. Only 7% of Canadian children and youth are meeting Canada’s guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity. Peasgood notes the need is not specific to one area or community.
“Having seen KidSport BC in a few communities, I realize support for kids to play sport is not a city thing or a Terrace thing, but a need all over the province,” Peasgood said. “When we fundraise, people want to contribute to what everyone sees as a positive thing for kids, for families and to make our communities stronger and healthier. We have a lot of resiliency in the North and we all come together.”
KidSport BC is a community-based program created by Sport BC in 1993. It expanded to a nationwide program that provides grants for children 18 and under to participate in a sport season of their choice.
KitSport BC: https://www.kidsportcanada.ca/british-columbia/