Up to one-third of Canadian families cannot afford to enrol their children in sport and recreation programs.
Canadian Tire, Marks Work Warehouse and a team of 25 cyclists mounted up Wednesday to to make sure underprivileged kids get the fun and benefits of sports participation.
The Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour pedals a 500-kilometre route across Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.
Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a national charity with more than 300 chapters across Canada that helps kids in financial need participate in organized sport and recreation.
It has helped more than 3,400 children and raised $196,000 in Nanaimo since 1995.
Sport and physical activity help kids develop athletic skills and build self esteem, social skills, concentration and character. Sport activities also help children learn cooperation, sharing, and even develop leadership skills.
During the ride, the team and corporate representatives will stop at elementary and high schools delivering Canadian Tire Jumpstart Kids Activity Kits. Two kits were given to John Barsby Community Secondary School and Georgia Avenue Community School Thursday (Sept. 22).
“It’s amazing how many kids they help,” said Misty Duifhuis, Nanaimo district community school coordinator and Nanaimo Jumpstart chapter member.
The kits contain basketballs, basketball nets, yoga mats, compasses and flags for orienteering, parachutes and juggling sets, which do not require special facilities and can be used indoors or outdoors. The kits are also designed around games and sports children are not familiar with, forcing them to learn and explore new things together.
“They’re going to have to learn a brand new sport together,” Duifhuis said. “So that makes it exciting as well because it levels out the playing field. The whole goal with Jumpstart is to get kids who aren’t physically active, active.”
The tour started in Victoria today and rides through several Island communities including Nanaimo, Duncan, Courtenay and Campbell River before crossing to the Mainland for stops in Powell River and Sechelt and finishing in Vancouver Sunday (Sept. 25).
This is the first time the ride takes place on the Island and is much larger than one hosted on Canada’s East Coast in 2010, which had six riders.
Participating riders range from seasoned long-distance veterans who have trained for months to less advanced riders have trained for much shorter periods.
For more information about Jumpstart, please visit Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart website at http://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/.
To find out more about the Jumpstart Pedal for Kids Cycling Tour and its riders, please visit http://ctjumpstart.tumblr.com/.