Brad Huculiak, Langley Canadian Tire service centre manager, and volunteer Shirley Vallance fire up the grill with hotdogs and fresh cooked onions for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart fundraiser event in the Langley location parking lot last May. The Canada-wide organization helps families who cannot afford to enrol their children in sport and recreation activities. This year's national Jumpstart day is Saturday, May 25.

Jumpstart program key for kids

One in three families cannot afford to enrol their children in organized sport or recreation activities because of financial barriers

One in three Canadian kids are left on the side of the rink

According to a study done by Vision Critical in 2011, one in three families in Canada cannot afford to enrol their children in organized sport or recreation activities because of financial barriers.

Six years ago, Marlee Stein wanted to learn to skate but she didn’t think it would be possible coming from a family of four kids and facing the struggles of a parent battling illness.

Through a family support service in her community, Stein and her family were introduced to Canadian Tire Jumpstart. The Jumpstart program supported Stein’s skating lessons and skate Canada membership through financial assistance.

A year after lacing up her skates for the first time, Stein decided to turn her desire to skate into a goal —to one day join the Canadian Olympic Figure Skating team. Through Jumpstart, Stein is able to continue her skating lessons and is working to achieve this dream.

“Jumpstart helped me get the lessons I needed to enter some very challenging provincial and national figure skating competitions in Canada,” she said.

“With all the lessons I have taken, I hope it opens up opportunities to eventually become a part of the Canadian Olympic team.”

“The benefits of kids participating in sports affects their entire lives,” said Johnny Misley, president of the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

“Jumpstart is dedicated to removing barriers so financially disadvantaged children can simply participate, and ultimately pusue their dreams.”

Kids who are able to participate in organized sport and recreation, outside school hours, gain many short and long term benefits including increased self esteem, greater self confidence, leadership skills, and better grades.

Despite the financial hardships many Canadian families face, there is a way to get kids into the game, no matter what barrier. By covering the cost of registration, equipment and/or transportation, Canadian Tire Jumpstart has helped 570,000 (and counting) children like Stein participate in the sport of their choice.

•••••

Throughout this month, people can help kids from within their community by visiting Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, Mark’s and Canadian Tire Gas+ stores as well as Pita Pit locations to donate $2 in exchange for a red ball, with 100 per cent of all donations going to help kids play.

The campaign will be celebrated on Jumpstart Day on Saturday (May 25) with activities taking place at participating Canadian Tire Retail stores across the country, including charity barbeque’s or GoClean waterless car washes.

Visit jumpstart.canadiantire.ca to learn more.

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