One in three Canadian families cannot afford to enrol their children in sport or recreation activities (Vision Critical 2011).
That means that many kids are missing out.
Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a registered not-for-profit charity that helps financially disadvantaged children aged four to 18 participate in organized sports and recreation by covering the cost of equipment, registration and/or transportation.
National in scope but local in focus, Canadian Tire Jumpstart delivers support to children through a Canada-wide network of about 325 local chapters. Courtenay Canadian Tire dealer Bert Heeringa says there are 40 chapters in B.C., including the local one.
“Within these chapters there are about 2,000 community partners from YMCA to boys and girls cubs, youth groups and all kinds of different organizations, such as Comox Valley United Soccer here,” Heeringa said, adding the community partners in the chapter do the screening to decide on the disbursement of funds.
“The funding supports the individual’s participation in an activity, not to support teams or groups or to create an inventory of equipment,” notes Comox Valley chapter chairperson Darcy Walters.
Funding is available for all children within a low-income family, and
100 per cent of the monies paid to support a child go to the direct benefit of the child. “No funds are used to pay for administration or for any other use,” Walters noted.
Started in 2005, Jumpstart helped around 24,000 kids nationally that year. Up until last year it had helped 500,000 kids in different sports. In 2005 the Comox Valley chapter helped about 100 kids. In 2012 they helped about 250 kids and had a budget of about $35,000, Heeringa said. “The main ones we help here are the Boys & Girls Club, Comox Valley Family Services Association and Comox Valley Regional District.”
As part of Jumpstart, Courtenay Canadian Tire has been able to obtain funding and by matching those funds has raised about $8,000 for charities such as the Sonshine Luncheon Club, the food bank and bursaries for North Island College.
Amanda Bankes, project assistant of communications with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities in Toronto, says that since 2005 Courtenay Canadian Tire Jumpstart has raised $73,000 and helped more than 1,170 children in the Comox Valley.
“It is important to note that all money that’s raised in the Valley stays in the Valley,” said Heeringa. “One of the biggest fundraisers we have is a spinathon done through the Comox Community Centre. Last year it raised $14,000 toward the program, which was huge. It’s a great community event,” he said of the annual February fundraiser.
“On Nov. 4 we will be recognizing the tremendous effort that Glenn Hascarl has put forward to organize (the) 24-hour spinathon … for the past two years,” Walters added.
Heeringa also brings his personal touch to Jumpstart. A veteran triathlete, for the past four years he has participated in the annual Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour, raising $5,000 each year for the Comox Valley.
The tour is a five-day, 500-km excursion held in different venues. This year participants started in Hinton, Alta. and rode through the Rockies en route to Calgary. He recalls the first tour was around the Cabot Trail where riders did 200 km a day over an undulating course and under wet and windy conditions.
“They decided they had to make the next one easier or they might not get anyone out to ride,” he said. Next fall’s tour will go from Ottawa to Quebec City.
Details of how to support Heeringa on his ride are posted on the Jumpstart website once registration is open. While donations to Jumpstart are welcome at Courtenay Canadian Tire, the Jumpstart website is also the best place to go for ideas on the many ways to become involved in the program.
For details, visit jumpstart.canadiantire.ca or check out their Facebook page.