KidSport back in full force

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 08:38 am

Five-year-old Noah Barlow tosses a bean bag into a target during the launch of Okotoks KidSport at the Okotoks Recreation Center as part of Family Day activities on Monday morning.
Five-year-old Noah Barlow tosses a bean bag into a target during the launch of Okotoks KidSport at the Okotoks Recreation Center as part of Family Day activities on Monday morning.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An organization known for connecting youth with sports stepped back into the spotlight on the most family-oriented day of the year.

Okotoks KidSport board members served hot dogs and provided fun activities during the Town’s Family Day festivities in the Okotoks Recreation Centre on Monday.

The not-for-profit organization was temporarily disbanded when former chairman Nick Ruigrok stepped down last spring.

A new group has been created and they want to show the community their commitment to getting youth participating in sports, no matter their financial situation, is as strong as ever.

“We have an opportunity to help their Family Day be fun and exciting and we have an opportunity to help people get active and spend time together that day,” said Okotoks KidSport chairperson Shari Gustafson last week.

“In my mind that’s what KidSport is all about. Of course it’s about serving kids, but it’s also about serving families, it’s about serving our community and Family Day is the perfect day.”

Although the new KidSport committee began work in October, Family Day marked the official relaunch of the Okotoks chapter.

“For our board and for our community the significance of Monday is it’s showing the community that we are here full force to support them, that we are coming up with new ideas, we are coming in with a passion and a drive, we are going to be present and active in raising funds so kids have the opportunity to be involved in sports,” she said.

The new 10-member committee made its first public appearance during Light Up Okotoks in November.

Over the last four months, it set guidelines, redesigned the application package, developed partnerships with businesses, sports organizations, service clubs and individuals and partnered with schools and community organizations to connect with those requiring its services, said Gustafson.

“Now, since October we’ve been able to rebuild relationships, let the community know we have been back up and running and are eager to serve people and hear their thoughts and ideas and go forward with serving our community,” she said. “The relationships that we’re creating right now are going to really help our organizations grow in our community.”

Gustafson attributes the revival of the local chapter to the commitment of the board wanting to see it through.

Gustafson said the committee aims to raise $30,000 through donations and fundraising this year with a goal of supporting 150 children with up to $250 worth of sporting equipment and sports-related fees. Okotoks KidSport assisted about 100 children last year.

“Our goals that we have set are high if you compare to the number of kids we have served in the past, but everybody really believes that if we work together we can make it happen,” she said. “I think you are going to see a presence of KidSport even stronger than it has been.”

Although several months passed with no local board last year, applications were accepted through KidSport Alberta. They will now be accepted through the new Okotoks board as of this week.

Gustafson said it speaks well for Okotoks that the organization continued to flourish despite having no local board.

She said fundraisers and donations continued throughout 2013.

“If you compared our books you would notice a slight difference,” she said, adding part of that is due to the 2013 flood. “The KidSport message is still and has still been in the community during that time. What would have been missing is our presence in the community for those months, our interactions with community members, clubs, organizations and businesses.”

For more information about Okotoks KidSport or to volunteer with the organization email Okotoks@kidsport.ab.ca, call 578-433-KIDS or go to www.kidsport.ab.ca.


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