Assisting kids with one of the barriers holding them back from participating in sports—the registration fee—is a fairly simple concept. Allow kids to “get in the game” and they’ll be healthier, do better in school, and have more productive adult lives. Simple? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely. This was the thinking when Bendites Natalie Hummel, John Ballantine, Tara Ballantine and Brian Grossman started KIDS in the GAME in 2010.
The local non-profit’s “Pass Program” provides up to $50 in registration fees, up to four times each year, to any Central Oregon child 18 and under. The only criteria are that the funded activity be one in which there will be regular, supervised movement and the student must get a letter of recommendation from a non-relative.
Program Manager Eric Haynie says the best thing about the program is “supporting kids in activities they love the most. Football, basketball, baseball, etc. don’t work for every kid. We support the activity that works for them.”
He cited a recent application where a child who struggles with a developmental disorder brightened up and joined in when exposed to parkour. It was the first application they’d received for that sport.
Word gets out to interested families through existing assistance programs. The school FAN (Family Access Network) Advocates refer families, as do WIC (Women, Infants and Children) programs, NeighborImpact and Oregon Adaptive Sports, among others.
Families are still responsible for at least $10 of each registration.
“It’s important that they have some financial contribution, as that makes the follow-through more likely,” says Haynie.
The check provided by KIDS in the GAME is made out to the program for which the child wishes to register, yet sent to the family to complete the process as another way to assure the involvement of others in the child’s success.
The Pass Program has expanded to three other areas due to partnerships with Active Network, LLC as well as Nike, Nautilus and Pacific Source.
Last year, KIDS in the GAME added “Go! Grants,” a new program in partnership with PHIT America and the SFIA (Sports and Fitness Industry Association). Grants between $1,000 and $5,000 are offered to programs in K-6 public schools in the United States that “spark new minutes of physical activity before, during or after school.” KidsInTheGame.org