The seeds of KidSport take root in Ponoka

Ponoka has taken its first step in creating a KidSport chapter

Ponoka has taken its first step in creating a KidSport chapter. On Oct. 24, at an informational meeting for the public, a board committee was established.

KidSport is a national non-profit organization that works to get youths playing the sports they want by helping overcome financial difficulties and other obstacles.

“We saw a really big need for KidSport in our community, and for more kids to have the opportunity to partake in organized sports” said Jackie MacGregor, board member.

Although it could take a while for Ponoka’s chapter to be up and functioning, once it does it will become its own entity to serve Ponoka.

Currently Ponoka’s KidSport applications are sent to KidSport Alberta in Edmonton. “We see a huge advantage to communities that have their own chapter,” said KidSport Alberta representative Kristin Glass.

Local chapters, while they still fall under the KidSport Alberta umbrella are able to make decisions about their chapter and how they’ll function within the community as a separate organization.

When first setting up in a community each local chapter has to fundraise an initial amount before it can start taking applications and giving the money back to the athletes. “So we make sure they can sustain themselves,” explained Glass.

Glass said the starting amount is different for each community, depending on how many applications the board thinks will come in and if the chapter is going to service just the town, portions of the county or all of the county.

Between 2008 and 2011 KidSport Alberta received 49 applications from Ponoka, mainly in gymnastics, soccer and swimming.

Glass says what’s good about having a local chapter is money raised in Ponoka will go only to Ponoka athletes, rather than having to rely on KidSport Alberta funds that are distributed throughout Alberta.

“Pretty much all of our chapters get money on an annual basis but it varies,” said Glass. Chapters are not guaranteed to get funds from the provincial group but it usually works out that they do.

That money can be put into the grant pool or used for other necessities within the chapter

Funds donated to KidSport from all organizations are split 80/20 with at least 80 per cent going toward application grants. “In many cases it’s more than 80 per cent,” said Glass.

Glass said KidSport normally grants $300 per child per year to help with registration fees, which is what KidSport Alberta primarily focuses on.

However, Glass said it’s up to each individual chapter to decide if they want to grant each athlete more to help with other costs throughout the season, such as travel expenses or tournaments. “Your chapter can change the grant per child per year at any time with a vote.”

While chapters are given a lot of individual freedom there are still restrictions set by KidSport Alberta. KidSport is able to provide grants only for registered sports with an instructor. “We won’t fund something like a swim pass but we will fund swimming lessons.”

At the meeting, Glass said she believes KidSport considers rodeo a sport.

However, Glass discussed with the crowd that, if Ponoka wanted to fund non-sporting extracurriculars, such as music, there could be channels to do so. The discussion was not detailed and nothing pertaining to an extended funding program was decided.

KidSport normally wants chapters to fund athletes in a sport over an extended period of time opposed to shorter event such as a sports camp, but finer details like that can be left up to the discretion of the chapter.

To decide which athletes meet the application criteria, KidSport takes the latest Statistics Canada low-income cut off and adds 30 per cent to the cut off line. “That being said, there are different situations,” said Glass.

Factors such as how many children in a family are taken into account for an applicant.

Anyone wanting to get involved with KidSport Ponoka can contact Jackie MacGregor at 403-899-2292.