What is the value of sport to a community? As seen in a Sport England report, sport is a powerful and transformative tool that can play a role in bringing communities together, having a social and cultural impact, developing social capital and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. From youth engagement to newcomer settlement and regeneration of the economy - sport builds leaders in a community and enhances the quality of life.
Sport develops great people, not just great athletes. The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport report findings include:
Young people’s participation in sport improves their numeracy scores by 8% on average above non-participants
Underachieving young people who take part in sport see a 29% increase in numeracy skills and a 12 to 16% rise in other transferable skills
Return on investment in sports programmes for at-risk youth is estimated at £7.35 of social benefit for every £1 spent – through financial savings to police, the criminal justice system and the community
Unemployed people who participate in sport are 11% more likely than non-participants to have looked for a job in the last four weeks
Sport teaches skills like leadership, commitment and hard work. Research indicates that communities connected by sport are usually healthier, happier, stronger and safer than those who partake in little recreation. With the rise in poverty and crime rates, it is important to give everyone the opportunity to be involved in sport at a young age – yet a sobering statistic shows that one third of Canadian children, aged three to 17, do not participate in organized sport largely due to cost.
So how do we combat the need for sport and economic disadvantages among much of the youth in Canada?
A short answer is community foundations.
Community foundations are entities that contribute time, leadership and financial support to local initiatives. They direct their knowledge of local priorities by distributing grants towards everything from education, the arts and of course sports and recreation. For example, Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada’s 191 community foundations working together to help Canadians invest in making our communities better. With 191 community foundations under their umbrella, this means that more than 90% of Canadian communities have access to a foundation. Community Foundations of Canada holds combined assets of more than $5.2 billion and has invested hundreds of millions back into communities over their 97-year history.
Contributing to a community foundation, applying to one of their grants or volunteering with one of their programs is investing in future legacies. The next mayor, Olympian, teacher or doctor may be in your community and not benefitting from the opportunity to grow because they simply can’t afford to enrol in sport. It is crucial for the future of our communities to give youth and young adults a chance to grow and thrive and fortunately, we have many community foundations to help facilitate those opportunities.