The value of youth sports and games starts with the opportunity to play – yet quickly goes far beyond that. Benefits like physical fitness and coordination are obvious, but there are many other intangible advantages that can be even more important: social interaction, strong discipline, team sportsmanship, and an appreciation for our history and cultural longevity.
Providing these valuable opportunities is why KidSport, a provincial organization that works to increase sports accessibility in Saskatchewan, became a Youth + Us partner. With chapters in 40 communities – and a provincial board that helps oversee funding to everywhere else – they contribute thousands of dollars each year to families, programs, and local sports organizations, enabling hundreds of kids to take part in something that may not have been otherwise possible.
While the organization assists with fees and equipment costs for many different sports, in the last few years they have had a boost in a particular area, thanks to some extra funding from the Youth + Us program: provincial lacrosse and hockey in the Treaty 4 region.
Hockey is an extremely popular sport, with high levels of skill, camaraderie, and teamwork developing in players as a result – but it can also be costly and competitive to enter a league and be part of the team. The partnership between KidSport and Youth + Us has given an extra 550 kids the opportunity to play, creating stronger community connections and allowing those skills to flourish.
Lacrosse, for its part, has an even more unique place within Saskatchewan. With a long history of cultural significance to Indigenous peoples in the province, many communities had often found they had neither the equipment nor the resources to form lacrosse programs. However, the interest has always been high, and the arrival of the Saskatchewan Rush professional team in 2015 spurred the creation of many more local leagues. This, combined with the high status of the sport to many cultures in the region, made it a perfect candidate for further funding from Youth + Us. Since 2019 – the first year of the partnership, when the available funding was increased seven-fold – more than 450 kids and teenagers have had help with lacrosse registration and fees through the various chapters of KidSport.
While those single enrollments and one-time sports program grants have a big impact, another area where KidSport has been able to expand has been within the school curriculum as well. Seeing a gap in education about lacrosse in the school system, KidSport has begun to actively promote the sport by providing equipment and training, helping non-profits and community groups create supporting leagues, and using their funds in the best, multi-purpose ways in order to get the best results.
So what is the ultimate secret to KidSport’s success? In their opinion, it’s because 100% of the donations and partnership funds go directly back to the sports programs. Overhead costs are dealt with separately, allowing for more money to go back to the communities and, ultimately, the kids who need it.
And that means that everyone gets to play and enjoy the game!