KidSport Calgary (KidSport Canada - Alberta)
Our Story Why We Exist
“Sports are the ultimate life coach for kids. Through sport, they learn the values of teamwork, leadership, commitment and perseverance. However, for some kids, the costs associated with organized sports are too great, and severely affect their ability to participate.
I was one of these kids, but I was also one of the kids lucky enough to receive support from KidSport Calgary. This is my story…
My family arrived in Canada in 1994, as immigrants fleeing the Yugoslav Wars. My parents arrived here without any close family and knowing little English. They came from a place where they were successful professionals, and arrived in a place where their post-secondary education was not recognized.
My parents were strong believers in the importance of sport in the development of young people, and first enrolled me in organized sports at the age of seven. They registered me in water polo, a sport that was extremely popular in the former Yugoslavia. My love of the game would come very soon after my first practice, and my experiences with water polo would influence the rest of my life.
My parents were determined to make the most of their lives in Canada, and were in the process of earning University degrees for the second time as well as working jobs to support their family. In my early years in water polo, many of the costs associated with organized sport became too much for my family. In order to afford these costs my family turned to the services of KidSport Calgary. The assistance offered by KidSport would allow me the chance to work towards and experience high-level competition, and would become crucial in my development into a high performance athlete.
As the years passed, my parents would become successful professionals and my family would no longer need the services of KidSport. However, their support allowed me to take some of my first steps in my athletic career.
I have been able to compete at the highest levels of international Water Polo. As a retired member of the Senior Men’s Canadian Water Polo Team, I have competed at three World Championships and two Pan American Games. Water polo has taken me across the world and allowed me to compete on six continents. I have also been fortunate enough to play water polo professionally in Europe for two seasons.
My success in sport, as in any success in life, can be attributed to numerous people and organizations that helped me along the way. KidSport is definitely one of the organizations that was crucial in my development as a young athlete. I am a strong believer in KidSport, and just one of the countless individuals that has had their life changed by the assistance they provide.”
-Oliver Vikalo, Retired from the Canadian Men’s Water Polo TeamCurrently, works for TEKsystems as an IT Applications Recruiter
KidSport Calgary and Area exist because of testimonials like this. KidSport believes in providing all kids with the opportunity to experience the positive benefits that sport showcases, through taking away the financial barriers for vulnerable families.
Sadly, 1 in 3 kids in our city cannot afford to participate in organized sport. In 1995, KidSport Calgary opened our doors to ensure that all kids who dream to play, can do just that.
We work hard to make it ‘So ALL Kids Can Play!’
Our Impact What We Do
Over 38,000 kids have been given the gift of sport and helped them get off the sideline and into the game, since opening our doors in 1995. Distributing over $9.3 million that was raised from the community, back into our communities sport clubs and organizations.
Through our sport registration fee assistance program, that is based on a qualifying application process, each qualified kid who is under 18 years old and registered in a sport program, can receive up to $325 per calendar year for his or her sport registration fees. With a goal to continue to raise more funds so we can support more kids, at a higher level of financial assistance, keeping up with the rising cost of sport.
- 17,267 kids assisted & over $4.5 million distributed since 2012
- 4,386 kids assisted to participate in organized sport; and
- $1,123,549 distributed within Calgary and area in 2016
- 4,600 kids will be assisted & $1.3 million distributed (2017 estimate)
What the research is saying:
- 91% of Canadians believe participation in sports teaches children important life skills
- A vast majority of Canadians agree that having kids involved in organized sport is an essential part of their physical (87%), social (84%), and emotional (80%) development
- Youth who participate in sport are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior and have lower rates of criminal arrest
- Sport offers young people a means to gain and enhance a range of life skills that can improve their chances of finding employment, raise their level of income, and make them more optimistic and willing to volunteer in their community
- Sport and physical education help improve young people's school attendance, behavior, and academic achievement
- Sport facilitates friendships and positive social relations, which also play an important role in youth identity formation
- Sport keeps children and youth active and healthy
- Sport can contribute to giving children a healthy start in life, help those with a poor start get back on track, and equip youth with the information, skills, personal resources and social support they need to make key life transitions successfully
Our Programs How We Do It
We provide financial assistance through our sport registration fee assistance program to qualified kids as our core program. Outside of this we look to find ways to connect with the community in getting kids active and ensuring the low-income demographic is nurtured and supported when finding new opportunities to experience sport.
Our core program is an application-based program. Families applying to us fill out their portion, work with the community sports organization to fill out their part and then submit the application with the necessary income verification documents. Once we receive an application, the process to receive the funds takes 3-4 weeks. Once approved, the cheque goes to the sport club to assist with the approved applicant’s registration fees.
We have secondary programs that promote activity and sport as well:
- Skate Shacks - KidSport Calgary operates two large trailers stocked with skates and helmets that we loan at no cost to community organizations and schools. Over 8500 kids and their families use these skate shacks each winter. This is a program focused on getting kids active by providing them equipment they may need to try an activity like skating and is not made possible without the support from ULS Landscaping and Maintenance to drop off and pick up the skate shacks each season.
- Equipment support - in 2014 we partnered up with Southern Alberta's very first Sports Equipment Bank. Located right here in Calgary, Comrie's Sports Equipment Bank is aligned directly with us in helping get more kids involved in sport that may currently face financial barriers that are keeping them from this valuable opportunity. Together with our partners at Comrie's we are breaking down the two main barriers facing families when it comes to sport participation - cost of sport registration and cost of equipment. As soon as a kid is approved for his or her sport registration fee assistance, they are also pre-approved for Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank, if equipment is needed.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Our sport registration fee assistance program not possible without financial support from the community. We rely 100% on community raised dollars through individual donors, corporate donors, grants, foundations, KidSport Calgary fundraisers/campaigns and third party events. Being a local non-profit organization, funds raised in Calgary and Area, stay in Calgary and Area.
Our greatest need is to continue to grow our donor pool and seek out new fundraising dollars so we can continue to meet the demand we have here in Calgary and Area. A demand that has increased by over 70% in the last 5 years. Become part of our great network of donors and partners and help us give some deserving young children in our community a chance to participate in organized sport.
Ways to get involved:
- Host an event
- Become a monthly donor
- Sponsor an event
- Share our story on social media, with your networks
How does your contribution make an impact?
- $50 a child can learn to swim
- $90 a child can learn to skate
- $125 a child can join a soccer team
- $175 a child can participate in gymnastics
- $325 a child can join a hockey team