Another sign of the tough economic times in Calgary was felt Monday, as KidSport announced it may have to turn down families who need help paying for sports for the first time in its 21-year history. KidSport provides support to children in order to remove financial barriers that prevent them from playing organized sport.
KidSport Calgary executive director Kevin Webster said this is going to be their most challenging year to date.
“The number of qualified applicants we received is through the roof this year compared to what we’ve seen,” Webster said.
There’s been an 80 per cent increase in the number of applications to Calgary’s KidSport office compared to this time last year. The charity predicts demand to reach $1.6 million in 2016, leaving the local KidSport with a $400,000 deficit. Webster said that could mean hundreds of qualified kids wouldn’t get help.
“It’s not something we were prepared for in terms of our typical fundraising. Our needs have now outgrown our funds.”
But there are some more affordable options out there within community associations. Caeri Killam helps run the Triwood soccer program in northwest Calgary.
“This is a fabulous option because it’s low cost. The highest cost is about $90 per kid for U 12 and the younger ones are only $65. It’s twice a week for one hour; it’s just amazing. And everyone is here, you get to know your neighbours, your community and the kids have so much fun together.”
Killam said registration is actually up this year and the community organization hasn’t raised soccer fees in several years.
“The kids here, they get to play against kids from different schools in the area. They get a real sense of community because most everyone comes from around here…I think they get that sense of fun and they learn that it’s not just about winning or losing,” Killam said.
“It’s about community, it’s about giving everyone a chance and fair play and just getting out there and being outside.”
In order to fund the greatest number of children, KidSport has now dropped the amount of money each child gets from $400 to $250 dollars.
For more information on KidSport Calgary visit www.kidsport.ca/calgary.