EDMONTON — A local non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to families whose kids might not otherwise be able to participate in organized sport has seen “unprecedented” demand for services this spring.
By the end of March, the KidSport Edmonton chapter processed 900 applications, a 53 per cent increase over the same time frame last year. KidSport Alberta believes the increase in demand is directly linked to the downturn in the economy.
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“This is fairly unprecedented, in recent history certainly, in terms of demand in our program and just the way the economy is playing out,” Liz Hebert, executive director of KidSport Edmonton, said.
“Definitely getting hit up with lots of families needing our services and a lot of those are, unfortunately, new families who haven’t faced this situation before.”
READ MORE: KidSport warns it may not be able to help Calgary families pay for organized sport
KidSport gets its funding from a number of different sources including grants, individual and corporate donations and a variety of fundraising events.
KidSport Edmonton provided financial assistance to about 2,000 kids in 2015. The organization provides up to $250 per kid per year. If this demand keeps up, Hebert anticipates the organization will help upwards of 3,000 kids by the end of the year.
But with the financial donations holding steady, Hebert isn’t sure the organization will be able to keep up with the growing demand.
“There has been times in the past where we’ve had to decrease our funding amounts,” she said. “If it got to that point we may have to decrease that. We really don’t believe in turning kids away, or families away.
“We’d much rather, if it had to get to that point, decrease the funding amount and go that way. It’s not optimal.”
Hebert is hopeful KidSport will be able to make up the difference, though, and will be working on new ways to collect donations.
The last time KidSport saw a spike in demand was in 2009-2010, but Hebert said it was only about a 30 to 40 per cent increase.
Last week, Shaw Communications Inc. announced plans to donate $25,000 to KidSport Edmonton, giving 125 children from low-income families the opportunity to play organized sports this year.
The donation follows a $55,000 donation Shaw made to KidSport Calgary this year through the Shaw Charity Classic.