All kids have a right to play

All kids have a right to play

The benefits of kids participating in sports, recreational and cultural activities are many. Kids learn about teamwork, respect, fair play, conflict resolution, commitment, honesty and effective communication all of which lead to greater self-esteem and success in life.

According to the 2013 Vital Signs Report in 2010 the Lunenburg County poverty rate was 16.5%, this means that about 7,800 Lunenburg County residents were living in poverty. During the same time the child poverty rate in Lunenburg County was 19.9% meaning that a staggering 1,800 children were living in poverty and the senior poverty percentage was 7.5% meaning that about 700 of our seniors were struggling.

Municipal units in Bridgewater, Chester and MoDL realized that with a lower than average income, many of these families did not have the financial resources to provide these life-building opportunities to their children.

These municipal units realized that too many kids in their area were falling through the cracks and missing out on the huge benefits provided by sport, recreational and cultural opportunities. While some families could access some monies for their children’s sport or cultural activities, they were still required to commit some of their own money towards the activity. The problem with poverty is that there is rarely, if ever extra money. Clearly the current system wasn’t working, so these 3 Parks and Recreation Departments adopted a funding strategy that was created by the city of Thunder Bay Ontario called PRO Kids, meaning Positive Recreational Opportunities for kids. Under this funding model, children from financially disadvantaged families are given the opportunity to participate in a sport or cultural activity of choice with no expectation of additional payment. A trusted community member like a teacher, clergy or police officer helps to determine their qualification.

The United Way of Lunenburg County supports all 3 PRO Kids Programs in Lunenburg County and has invested over $125,000 in the programs since 2006. This money helps provide the impetus to quickly get kids into the game and help ensure long-term sustainability of the programs. The expectation is that the community will realize the benefits of engaging local kids in sport and culture activities and offer support of their fundraising activities.

For additional information about the PRO kids program in your area please call

–       Bridgewater Parks and Recreation 902-543-2274

–       Chester Parks and Recreation 902-275-3490

–       MoDL Parks and Recreation at 902-543-1343.

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