Jumpstart helps get kids in the game

This Saturday is one of the most important days of the year for amateur sport and recreation in Canada.

May 26 is Jumpstart Day, when every Canadian Tire store will feature fun activities and draws to help raise money so that kids from financially disadvantaged families in local communities across the country can get in the game.

"It's extremely beneficial to have programs like this," says Roger Barnes, past president of Richmond Soccer. "Normally community sport does whatever it can to ensure all children can play regardless of their economic well-being, and this helps make that possible. It's important that kids have the ability to play without having to be from a high-income family. One of the goals of community sport is to ensure inclusiveness."

Barnes says the fact Canadian Tire would establish a program like Jumpstart speaks "very highly of the corporation and shows they have a good understanding of the importance of sport."

"It's one thing to support elite athletes and sponsor national teams, and while that's important helping kids play sport at the grassroots (is particularly exemplary)."

Barnes notes that the cost to play even so-called lower-priced sports is constantly rising, especially when equipment and training fees are added. That, he says, produces two concerns—families who'd like their children to play but simply can't afford it, and those who don't encourage their kids to play because they're concerned about the costs.

"If we can create awareness that there's help available, and cost doesn't need to be a barrier, we'll get more of those families coming out," he says.

Sean Davies, coordinator of diversity services at the City of Richmond, says any chance to provide opportunities for kids that are supported by a corporation with the profile of Canadian Tire can only benefit children and youth by encouraging their participation in sport.

"Getting kids involved in sport and recreation creates opportunities for healthy lifestyles, builds self-esteem, confidence and the ability to learn leadership skills, and develop good social relationships," he says. "Jumpstart is a fantastic way to allow that entry into sport to begin."

A national charitable program, Jumpstart began in 2005 and has since given 439,383 kids across Canada the chance to play by covering registration, equipment and or transportation costs. Volunteers in a growing and extensive national network of more than 310 local chapters—including Richmond-Delta—are committed to help get kids active and healthy, working in partnership with other local non-profit organizations to discreetly identify kids with the greatest need in their community.

The one million red ball campaign is one of the many ways you can donate to Jumpstart and is one of the most popular fundraising programs. This year there are two new designs, a basketball and a baseball, which are available for a donation of $2 each.


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