In the summer of 2000, Victoria hosted the BC Summer Games.
Patti Hunter is the General Manager of KidSport Greater Victoria, said that there was a $5,000 legacy from those games, matched by a $5,000 grant from the Victoria Foundation.
Those $10,000 founded KidSport Greater Victoria, to ensure kids from low-income families can play sports too.
“We fund up to $400 per child per year, to register them in a season of sports,” said Hunter.
That includes more than 70 different sports and more than 200 local sport organizations.
Many parents across Greater Victoria who benefit from this non-profit organization have expressed gratitude.
“Everybody wants to do what you can for your kids. Everybody loves to see [their] kids have fun and play!” Jeff Stratford said.
Both Stratford and his partner Kayla’s children play hockey, and that adds up.
“Four hundred dollars for initiation fees, plus gear on top of that, per kid. It can get pretty expensive,” Stratford said.
Hockey can be one of the more expensive sports, with fees in the $700 range during registration. A season of soccer can range from $250 to $350 depending on the age of the child.
“I love baseball,” said Hunter, smiling, “Because it’s only about 120 dollars for a season.”
Stratford’s seven-year-old daughter Annabelle began playing with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association when she was five
“I like playing hockey!” she said with a grin.
“She wanted to play hockey, so I can’t really say no…so you try and do what you can for them,” Stratford said.
With KidSport covering registration, and gear handed down from friends or bought second-hand, both Annabelle and her younger brother Landon, play with the Association.
“She learns a lot – teamwork and sportsmanship. It showed in her first year, where she ended up winning an award for most determined,” Stratford said.
Hunter said KidSport has been giving out grants for 17 years.
“We have now funded 10,074 children. We’ve raised in this community, and put back into this community,$2.2 million in grants.” Hunter said.
“Unfortunately, the need is outstripping our ability to raise money. We are not government funded.”
That means that KidSport is running a deficit. Hunter wants to see every child who wants to play, be given that opportunity.
“These children learn to be part of a team. It builds self-confidence,” Hunter said. “They gain those fundamental movement skills that are so important in life.”
“And for immigrant children, it teaches them how to be a Canadian. We really, really do need the community to kind of come in and support us. The alternative is we will have to start turning children away.”
If you’d like to make a donation, so all kids can play, click here.