KIDSPORT: SO ALL KIDS CAN PLAY!
The Significance of KidSport
KidSport BC is a non-profit organization that provides grants to youth, 18 and younger, to participate in recognized organized sport programs, removing financial barriers to sport participation that many under-resourced families face. These grants for individuals help cover registration fees and equipment costs. Since 1993, more than $15,000,000 has been granted to nearly 63,000 youth in BC and in 2019, nearly $14,000 was granted to 40 youth to allow them to take part in programs run by BC Athletics’ member clubs.
KidSport encourages the notion that sport changes lives, and that sport skills are life skills that can lead to improved academic performance and education as well as preventative health care. There is a belief in the transformative power of sport and its ability to build stronger communities and healthy citizens. As such, their main goal is to enhance and support sport participation in British Columbia, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
This month, we were excited to catch up with Katelynn Ramage, a former KidSport recipient, who went on to represent Canada at the Pan American Games. In this interview, Katelynn shares her journey in Athletics and why she is so passionate about KidSport.
BC Athletics: What was your experience with sport growing up?
Ramage: Until high school, my experience with sport was pretty limited, as I participated in a lot of school-based sports. I grew up on the Island, so I had limited access to coaching and competition opportunities.
BC Athletics: How did you come to be involved in Athletics/Track and Field?
Ramage: In elementary school, I played every sport available to me, but once I got into high school, I realized that I couldn’t do all of them because their seasons overlapped. I liked cross country, basketball and track, and those three sports seasons took up the whole year, so I stuck with them.
BC Athletics: What went into the decision to specifically pursue race walking and cross country running?
Ramage: In Grade 10, I had quite a severe injury playing basketball, so at that point I had to make a decision to either continue doing city-based sports or to try taking track to a different level. Cross country had always been something I enjoyed, as my body isn’t great on the track, and I definitely enjoy running on the roads a little more. Race walking was something I got involved with through a friend who saw an opportunity for me. Before I joined a track club, at around Grade 9, my best friend really wanted to qualify for the BC Summer Games. She was going for another sport and she encouraged me to try race walking to make the Games. I didn’t realize how competitive it was, as a lot of the top girls in the province were from the Island and unfortunately I didn’t qualify.
The next year, I joined the Nanaimo Track & Field Club. Funny enough, my current coach was actually my coach back then! We started off running, then tried out a few race walking races. Things just developed really well in race walk, so I just stuck with it after that. Most race walkers have a unique story about how they got into it, as there is usually a series of events that encourage us to give it a try.
BC Athletics: How did you first hear about KidSport?
Ramage: In the transition from Grade 9 to Grade 10, when I knew I wanted more out of track than the limited coaching that my high school could offer, there was a family from our high school that encouraged me to join a track & field club. At first, I refused because I thought it was too expensive, but that family actually introduced me to the whole idea of KidSport. I wrote an application, applied, and was able to get two years of fully funded track which, was really amazing!
BC Athletics: As a whole, how has KidSport helped provide opportunities for you to continue competing?
Ramage: In high school, just having the access to be able to take part in sport is what has created opportunities later in life. If I didn’t have the support from KidSport in high school, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Even though they don’t financially support me today, the support they gave me when I was 16 has had a lasting impact on my life.
BC Athletics: How has sport impacted your life as a whole?
Ramage: It has impacted my life in so many different ways. I grew up in a single parent family on welfare, so putting a roof over my head, getting food in the fridge, and other day-to-day activities were the main focus. So with KidSport stepping in, sports has given me literally everything. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I have to continue competing and traveling, and being able to go to university on a partial scholarship. A lot of other characteristics in my life are attributed to sport, such as self-discipline, determination, and more traits that you can really only gain through sport. Also having that community that I’ve grow up with has helped me tremendously.
BC Athletics: What aspect of your athletic career are you most proud of?
Ramage: To date, probably competing at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. It was a pretty cool experience competing on home soil for Team Canada. Conditions were tough that day, but I managed to pull out a three-minute personal best, so that was the highlight of my career. There’s something about competing at home for your country that’s special and not many people have that opportunity.
BC Athletics: What would your message be to young kids and families who are looking to get into sport, but are experiencing hardship, whether that be financial or other?
Ramage: Do some research, as there are many organizations in the community that can definitely help out. If you have a dream or a passion for sport or anything else, don’t give up on it. I went at it a lot in high school without a coach, just went for runs, and I didn’t know that it would lead me to where I am today. If you have a dream, don’t let it dwindle; keeping going for it even if the pathway to making the dream a reality isn’t completely clear.
KidSport BC has had a positive impact for so many athletes across British Columbia, and from Katelynn’s experience we can see that there’s lasting impact on lives in and beyond sport.
Here are some next steps and things to keep in mind moving forward with KidSport:
1. Promote, Promote, Promote
If you are part of a Club, ask that information about KidSport be shared on your club’s website. For families that aren’t familiar with the program, being made aware that there are financial assistance opportunities to help support their sport participation can make all the difference. Check out the BC Athletics Programs & Marketing Best Practices document for how you can include KidSport information on your website.
2. Support KidSport Week
This year, KidSport Week will take place from September 7-14. The purpose of KidSport Week is to enhance the level of awareness of KidSport in the community and raise funds to allow an additional 500 kids to play a season of sport!
3. Get Involved
One of the best parts of KidSport is that is driven from the community. KidSport chapters are always looking for volunteers; get involved with your local chapter! As well, consider donating to KidSport BC, as every donation can have a significant impact on a child’s life.
Special thanks to Katelynn Ramage for taking the time to speak to us.
Author: Frank Liao – 2020 Coaches, Officials, and Introductory Programs Assistant, BC Athletics