For the last 26 years KidSport has supported Calgary & Area kids with sport registration fee assistance and equipment. Those provided with assistance would otherwise be unable to become part of their sport community or team.
KidSport is structured to break down barriers that prevent kids accessing sports but during the COVID pandemic we went through waves of starting, stopping, and getting creative to find new ways to give kids access to our Calgary Flames Sports Bank so they could keep active and play outdoors.
The last two years have been hard. Organized sports have been cancelled, put on hold, reshaped to distance players from each other, or only run with a limited number of participants. For an organization whose sole purpose is to help low-income kids access sports so they can get active, the impact of pandemic restrictions has been tough on the KidSport team. But it’s been tougher on the kids who rely on sport as a motivator, a social connector, and an outlet that’s helping improve their physical- and mental- health.
During the pandemic lockdowns and team game restrictions, instead of waiting for families to find KidSport, we ramped up our outreach efforts with both Calgary’s sports community and social service agencies to reach families in need. Most of these families hadn’t asked for help. They didn’t know about KidSport or they hadn’t considered getting their kids sports equipment. But once the parents saw their kids holding tightly to a new pair of skates that actually fit or a basketball they can shoot hoops with in their local neighbourhood, huge smiles said it all and they could see how even simple pieces of equipment can help their kids get motivated to go outside and start moving.
We were ready for the sudden increase in demand when Alberta’s restrictions lifted this past summer thanks to a timely donation from the Shaw Family Foundation of $100,000 that they made sure raised yet more funds by having it matched through the Shaw Birdies for Kids, presented by AltaLink. This matching program raises funds for children’s programs in Alberta and is held each year in conjunction with the Shaw Charity Classic golf tournament. When the Foundation’s President, Julie Shaw, presented the cheque to KidSport, she said: “The Shaw Family Foundation is committed to helping youth in our community. That is why we are supporting KidSport’s mission to leave no child who wants to play a sport on the sideline because they can’t afford the equipment or registration fees.”
The Shaw Family Foundation’s donation was the kickstart we needed to relaunch the Gift of Sport program with our Back to Sport push. They had us ready to mobilize all facets of our program including our individual sport registration fee assistance grants, individual equipment outfitting’s, as well as supporting local group programs with bulk equipment support.
Since we announced the Shaw Family Foundation’s amazing contribution in August, Alaris Equity Partners, Collier’s International, Kyle Shewfelt Gymnastics, Flint Energy, and ConnectFirst Credit Union have contributed equipment and donations. This new momentum has energized our volunteer committee and sparked conversations with other potential partners.
And the good news doesn’t stop there!
Thanks to these donors jumping in to help, between August and November 2021, we have been able to distribute more than $517,769 in sport registration fee assistance back into our minor sport community and local economy to assist 1,438 kids with the Gift of Sport. In that same time, we have been able to provide 513 kids with no-cost equipment to help make sport more accessible to them. This included having us give out an amazing 3,739 pieces of equipment that were donated to our Calgary Flames Sports Bank from our partners and members of our community.