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KidSport across Lakeland expect increased funding for local families

New funding agreement can open doors to sports for Lakeland families

LAKELAND - More kids will be able to participate in school sports this year across the Lakeland region through a partnership from KidsSport Alberta and Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA).

The funding is provided by the provincial and federal governments’ Sport Participation Support Program (SPSP) grant and will support all of Alberta’s 40 KidsSport local chapters.

The annual funding will accommodate high school students who come from low-income or challenged families by getting them registered to more school sports, says St. Paul KidsSport founder and chairperson Darryl Poirier.

The new funding will mean a lot to local families, and boost the assistance offered by the local KidSport group.

“We do the best we can, but money is always a factor… it's going to allow us to help more kids and expand the programs because we are in a financial position where we need as much support as possible,” says Poirier.

Traditionally, he adds, the organization in the St.Paul area supports 50 to 80 children with $300 per year to cover registration fees, but as the details of the additional funding roll out, he will be excited to see more kids supported.

In the Lac La Biche region, the local KidSport group says the additional funding was a surprise that is welcomed. KidSport board chairman Tom Hannan says the organization's mandate to open up more opportunities for kids and their families through sports will be boosted by the new funding.

“There are so many barriers; transportation, equipment — you name it. Our chapter has helped kids in school programs for years… volleyball, basketball… even with kids in classes where they needed some help with expenses.”

Hannan is optimistic that in the future, KidsSport can team up with other organizations and include more tools such as equipment and outside-of-school programs that are convenient for Lac La Biche residents who don't have the means to access the funds or the programming.

The need stretches across all communities, says Poirier, explaining that challenging family and financial dynamics are common everywhere. 

“A lot of single mothers having a tough time keeping their kids in sports—or grandmothers taking care of kids—we do our best to help them.”

Although the application process is facilitated between schools and KidsSport in most cases, there can be issues with the eligibility of the program and awareness of the application process, says Poirier.

“Quite often, the person doesn't understand the mechanics of it, or the process of the application despite the communication efforts of the school or myself to get more students involved.”

The program is confidential, but requires applicants to disclose proof of income, says Poirier. The support is meant for those who need it most.

Both Lakeland KidSport chapters are supportive that kids in need - regardless of their skill set - can learn a new sport and be supported.

“Getting kids active supports our communities' future," says Hannan.

Applications and more details on KidSport funding can be found by searching the organizations social media and websites.