Know a New West child or teen looking to play a sport?
KidSportBC New West hopes parents, guardians consider applying for one of their grants
Is there a child or teen you know of in New Westminster who would love to play an organized sport, but might need a helping hand to do so?
"What KidSport offers is, it removes the financial barrier for those who are interested in playing registered sports," she tells New West Anchor. "[A financial barrier] shouldn't be the reason that they don't get to play in sports. KidSport provides that funding."
The organization can provide grants of up to $400 in one calendar year, and that money can be used for more than one sport, says Arbo. These grants are for kids who live in New West, and are under the age of 18. "Maybe they're going to play one sport and it's $125. In another sport later on in the year, $250. They can apply more than one time in a calendar year." KidSport New West covers groups that are Sport BC members, and the member's season has to go for at least six weeks.
"There's a whole list of sports [kids] can play. Whether it's soccer, or something off the beaten path such as Vancouver adaptive snow sports, kayaking, or other sports like that." Arbo says funding can also be granted to a child who lives in New West if the sport is outside of this city and only offered in another municipality.
In New West, soccer is the most popular option for families, because of its relative affordability, long season, and minimal equipment requirements.
"There's lots of complicating, intersecting barriers to sport, things like transportation, time poverty ... but if we can remove the financial barrier, we hope that it alleviates some of the burden on families who are still recovering from the pandemic's effects," she says.
What's more, some families might not realize that their child is eligible for one of these grants.
"What we are seeing now is some interesting requests where the families may not qualify on paper because the income level is stated as being a certain amount, but the reality is is that they've take on huge amounts of debt to make it through the pandemic," notes Arbo, who says there are families out there who are stretching themselves thin to juggle a variety of costs. "Now we're seeing a lot of first-time grant applicants. That's something new for us. But we also know we're certainly not hitting [all potential applicants]."
KidSport is funded through a variety of means: the federal and provincial government chips in, and the group also relies on corporate and private donations, along with fundraiser events, like beer and burger nights. As has been the case with a number of organizations, fundraising efforts were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. All the money raised from these events assist kids from New West.
"In New Westminster, we're really fortunate our chapter has funds in the bank right now. Our greatest challenge is actually finding kids to give grants to, because we know that there are kids who are not playing sports, and we know that there are kids who are out on the sidelines."
Even if you're unsure as to whether your child qualifies, Arbo says it doesn't hurt to put an application in.
"We've got two ways that qualify families to be eligible for KidSport. One is they provide us with proof of their income; that might be their notice of assessment. And so we use the low income cut-off guidelines; the truth is those aren't that great either because especially in Metro Vancouver, they don't really reflect the same scenario as [let's say] Cache Creek."
"But we also are flexible, in terms of we're willing to consider, if there are extenuating circumstances. The other way a family can apply is using an endorser," she adds, citing examples like an accountant or a pastor at a family's church. "Ultimately, we'll do whatever it takes to support a family, we just don't want to see kids missing out on the opportunity to play sport."
For families relatively new to Canada, or those who might have had to flee something, as was the case with Ukraine, the flexibility rule also applies.
"We do really put a focus on Indigenous athletes, athletes who have disabilities, and athletes who are considered new Canadians, as well as girls who are traditionally underrepresented in sport," she says, adding that stats including the non-binary population only began to be kept in the last year. "It's roughly two [boys to] one [girl], or even three boys to one girl."
Applications can be completed online or on paper, and Arbo says there are a number of partners willing to help, like some of the local schools or groups like Fraserside. As for how the community can assist, she suggests looking out for their various fundraisers.
"People are [also] able to make private donations on the website safely and securely for a charitable tax receipt. We're also open to partnerships, so that we can be the beneficiary of something," notes Arbo, who says one example from previous years included a community group fundraising through a scavenger hunt. A portion of the entry fees from said hunt ended up going to the New West KidSport chapter as a donation. "We're always open to partnerships and opportunities to collaborate with groups."
Last KidSport was able to help 69 kids, which was down from the previous years. Five or six years ago, it was common to see upwards of 100 kids and teens getting grants. "It's a really low number comparatively. That's just because there were less sports that were occurring [because of the pandemic]."
If you have any questions about the program, Arbo says parents and guardians are encouraged to reach out through email at [email protected]