We spoke with Richmond KidSport Chair Bob Jackson to learn a little more about what their charity does to help children in sport and why this program is so important in our community. KidSport is a proud partner of the 2022 CARHA Hockey World Cup and we are excited to share their vision “So ALL Kids Can Play.” Hi Bob, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Can you please explain what KidSport is and what sort of things the organization does for some of our readers who may be unfamiliar? KidSport is a not-for-profit charity that provides grants to kids, from families facing financial barriers, so they can participate in registered sport programs and experience the lifelong benefits of at least one season of sport each year. Can you briefly explain the origins of KidSport in Richmond and how this program came to be? KidSport was started as a program in the Province of BC by Sport BC, in 1993, with the goal to help families overcome the prohibitive cost of sport for kids. Originally KidSport was administered out of the Sport BC provincial office. Around 2000 KidSport help establish local community chapters. In 2008, the Richmond Sports Council took on the challenge of starting a local chapter of KidSport for the City of Richmond. So the KidSport Richmond Chapter is a sub-committee of the Richmond Sports Council. Today there are 42 local chapters in British Columbia and 166 chapters in all of Canada. Since 1993, KidSport has helped nearly 1 million kids experience the joy of organized sport, and in return, sport has created all kinds of positive change for Canadians. How many children in British Columbia would you say are aided by KidSport funding? The KidSport concept was launched, in 1993, by the board and staff at Sport BC as a way to help address the financial challenges faced by many families when registering their children in organized sport. From a modest start in the first year, issuing $35,000 in grants KidSport in BC, it has grown and in 2019 KidSport in BC issued $2.1 million in grants to over 7,300 kids. In 2019, KidSport Richmond provided $126,570 in grants to 339 kids in Richmond. In 2020 in BC, due to the COVID pandemic, there were no community sports for 4 months and when sports were allowed there were no games or travelling. Community sports were only allowed to hold practices and develop skills so KidSport Richmond only provided $79,790 in grants for 171 athletes. Are we doing enough or are there more kids that can be helped? I don’t think communities are doing enough to get kids involved in physical activity like sports. There are still many children from families of recent immigrants, kids with a single parent who KidSport has to reach out to help. Our challenge is to market the benefits of KidSport Richmond to these types of families in our community. Our mission remains the same…to remove the financial barriers that prevent some children from playing organized sport! Our vision is “So ALL Kids Can Play” We know how hard it was last year when youth sports had to cease operations due to COVID-19. Has KidSport been able to start operating again? What sort of programs and sports are being offered right now? In British Columbia there were no community sports for kids from the middle of March until the summer. When sports started in the summer sports, kids were only allowed to practice and work on skill development. Travelling for games has been banned. There have been no games played since March 2020. In 2021 the registration numbers in some sports have dropped from the previous year for fear of COVID. There have been no high school athletic programs since March 2020. Older youth in community sports are tired of practicing for 7 or 8 months; they are eager to playing games again. Since community sports for kids was allowed by the Provincial Health Officer, KidSport Richmond has provided over $50,000 in grants. We were lucky enough to attend the KidSport Gala in Richmond last year before COVID and hear some amazing stories from athletes and learn about how KidSport helps the community. Are there any other events like this coming that people can register or buy tickets for? Due to the British Columbia Provincial Health Restrictions, there are no opportunities to host an event to raise funds to assist kids in sport. If these restrictions were to continue for another 12 months, KidSport™ Richmond might try to host a virtual fundraising event next winter. Currently, hotels can’t host a banquet. Lastly Bob, what are some of the ways the community can help support KidSport in BC? Are there any volunteering or donating opportunities? In Richmond we have been lucky for over the last 12 months KidSport Richmond has received over $25,000 in donations and we also received a grant of $19,000 from the City of Richmond. On the KidSport™ Richmond website there is an opportunity to make a donation to KidSport™ Richmond. The challenge for KidSport Richmond is marketing and building our “brand”. Firstly to get the word out to families with financial challenges so we can assist with providing an opportunity for their children to participate in sport. Secondly, getting out our story to the business community in Richmond so that we can attract more donations to KidSport Richmond. Thank you Bob, it is truly great work what the people at KidSport are doing to keep children active and to give them an opportunity to be involved in sport. We can’t wait to see you and the KidSport family at our games at the 2022 CARHA Hockey World Cup!