When everyone plays, everyone wins where healthy lifestyles are concerned. If we want our children to be active, there’s no room on the bench.
The benefits of participating in organized sport are well documented, especially for children. They include enhanced academic performance, improved mental and physical health, the development of leadership and teamwork skills, and socialization across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries.
But statistics tell us that one-in-three Canadian families struggle with the costs of getting their children involved in organized sport. In addition, Canada’s obesity rate has tripled in the last 30 years, according to a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Even more troubling is that the statistic extends to children ages 5 to 17, with one in every three children registered as overweight or obese. As a society, we need to be more active in addressing this growing challenge.
KidSport has operated as the charitable arm of Sport BC in British Columbia since 1993. Our mission is simple: remove the financial barriers that prevent some children from playing organized sport. KidSport BC and our 41 community chapters helped more than 6,600 kids play a season of sport in 2013.
We know that most of the children involved in our program are never going to be Olympians. Nonetheless, the experiences they have, the friendships they make, and the memories they create will positively impact who they become as adults.
KidSport takes the approach that it takes a village to raise a child. To that end, we engage partners in a variety of communities to assist us in ensuring that no child gets left on the sidelines. Volunteers operate our 41 community chapters, and these incredible individuals engage local businesses, social services, sports, recreation, health and a variety of other sectors to meet the needs within their communities.
Children who grow up playing organized sport are eight times as likely to remain physically active by the time they reach the age of 24, compared to children who do not participate in organized sport, according to a report cited on the Aspen Institute’s website under their “Project Play” initiative.
We know that while we help thousands of kids each year discover the benefits of organized sport, there are thousands more out there who may not know about the sport opportunities that exist or how to access assistance. There remains much work to be done.
We encourage more players in the field as we continue work on our mission to ensure empty sidelines. Spreading the word about the importance of physical activity will help build a healthier, more active future for Canada.
Pete Quevillon is the Director of KidSport BC. He is also a Thought Leader of The Play Exchange, an online challenge to find and support innovative ideas promoting healthy and active living across Canada.
Follow #PlayExchange on Twitter for competition news and current trends in innovation, and check out the Facebook page to become part of the conversation.