Fundraiser to kick off ‘Jump Start’ in Stettler

National program aims to enable all youth to participate in sports

May is national “Jump Start” month, and Stettler is in on the act.

Stettler hosts a fundraising barbecue May 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Canadian Tire to raise funds for local youth participation in sports.

The program has been in Stettler since Canadian Tire came to town four years ago, said Mareena Davits, office supervisor at the Stettler location.

She said it’s a way for the business to give back to the community and help to support local kids.

Along with the barbecue, people can purchase rubber balls, donate their Canadian Tire money or make a donation to support the Stettler Jump Start chapter, said Davits.

The assistance is to enable disadvantaged children, from four to 18 years old, to participate in sports and organized physical activities.

The Jump Start slogan is “Together we can help all kids play.”

The local Jump Start chapter is supported by partnerships with Heartland Youth Centre, Stettler FCSS and the Town of Stettler recreation board.

FCSS director Wendy Rhyason said she was “really impressed” with the program, because “it removes barriers so all youth, regardless of their financial means, can participate in sports and recreation.”

Jump Start tries to help youth from low-income families who might not otherwise be able to participate in sports.

“When kids participate in sports, they gain self-confidence, build self-esteem and learn leadership skills,” Rhyason said.

She’s pleased that all the money raised in Stettler stays in the area.

Heartland Youth Centre program director Sara Wengryn said kids that qualify and want to take advantage of the program can apply at the youth centre.

The program pays registration fees and an application can be made to cover the cost of sports equipment.

“Having access to Jump Start gives kids an opportunity to participate in sports and physical activities and to socialize,” Wengryn said.

“It gives them a sense of belonging.”

Last year, 187 local youth were helped by Jump Start, Wengryn said.

She said families who have benefited by the program “are so appreciative.”