The thing that is so brutal about poverty is that it touches every aspect of a family’s existence. While those impacts are felt in the most basic areas of life such as food insecurity, a lack of clothing, healthcare needs that go unaddressed, substandard education, and inadequate shelter, the impacts also creep out into other areas that many people don’t normally consider.
One area where poverty has a huge impact is in that of youth sports. Providing organized youth athletics is an expensive undertaking. Sports leagues must charge a certain amount in registration and sign-up fees in order to fund the activity—everything from liability insurance to equipment, uniforms and field maintenance.
Some sports have lower fees while others, like football or hockey, can be extremely expensive. Go into any low- to moderate-income community, and you’ll find families struggling to come up with registration fees so that a child can participate. For families with more than one child, it’s that much harder.
But that’s where “Every Kid Sports” comes to the rescue, providing youth sports grants to kids from income-restricted families so that they aren’t prevented from playing on a team or in a league because Mom or Dad can’t afford to cover registration fees. While those receiving a grant must come up with at least $10 per child for registration, eligible families with Every Kid Sports can receive anywhere from $150 quarterly to $600 annually depending on number of children and need, etc.
The program is for youth ages 4 to 18 years old. To determine financial need, parents or guardians must submit enrollment documents with the child’s name and current dates of enrollment for one of the following: Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, or Certificate of Eligibility (COE) for Migrant Education Programs. Upon approval, an electronic payment card will be issued virtually to the parent/guardian, allowing them to pay the child’s registration fees online.
However, the recreational youth sports league (or school athletic program) the child wishes to join must be able to accept registration payments via VISA debit or credit; the program cannot accommodate programs that only accept cash or check. The program does not provide grants for travel teams or club teams.
With Every Kid Sports in mind, I encourage parents and those who operate youth sports leagues to visit the website at everykidsports.org/every-kid-sports-pass/ as the website has much information and an extensive FAQ. I also encourage those in a position to donate to consider doing so, as this program is vital and will have long-lasting positive impacts for young people.
But more than that, I think that for so many young people, sports and athletics provides them with opportunities to build self-confidence, learn discipline and the value of hard work, and get a taste of working with others on a common goal. That might sound like basic stuff to some, but in an era that sees more young people isolated and tethered to a device, sports can be a great teacher without being pushy.
Finally, sports and athletics is one of the few ways that those living in poverty can dream about breaking that chain of poverty.Every kid that steps onto a field won’t grow up to be a professional athlete, but a few will and until they show themselves to us, why shouldn’t every kid have the chance to dream their dream? Maybe it starts with Every Kid Sports.