In an ongoing effort to increase community engagement, Mike Howell, the owner of the Thompson Canadian Tire, is spreading the word about Jumpstart, a charity designed to help kids overcome financial and accessibility barriers when it comes to participating in sport.
During a Nov. 15 meeting with the Rotary Club of Thompson, Howell laid out the benefits of this national charity, saying that Jumpstart helps cover the cost of registration, transportation and equipment for its applicants.
“Since 2005 we’ve distributed more than $160 million dollars and it helped over $1.6 million kids,” he said in a follow-up conversation with the Thompson Citizen. “We also understand that, for kids, the opportunity to play is much more than just getting active. Sport teaches important life skills like courage, confidence and teamwork.”
While last year’s Jumpstart managed to help 23 kids get into local sports programs, Howell said there’s still a lot of untapped potential in the Hub of the North, especially after his Canadian Tire team raised around $8,000 through a July barbecue and recently received a $3,100 donation from the employees of Thompson Ford.
“We feel that we should be able to help way more than 23 kids a year,” he said. “We certainly have the funds to do it.”
In terms of what this money can provide, Howell said that the funds could even go towards the construction of new recreation infrastructure for children with disabilities.
“Somebody who wants to make [Lions Club] Park accessible to those with disabilities, they can actually apply for a grant and if they are successful then Jumpstart will donate money to make these playgrounds accessible for all people.”
This program can also serve as a good jumping off point for anybody who wants to start a brand new sports team or league in town.
“For example, if someone wants to start a sledge hockey league, Jumpstart will help get the league rolling and that’s pretty amazing,” said Howell.
According to Thompson Ford sales rep Art Lafreniere, his team decided to donate $3,100 to Jumpstart because of its ability to cut through the bureaucracy that’s usually attached a lot of provincially sponsored programming.
“There is other programs out there, but, holy cow, you got to jump through hoops to get any kind of kids program started,” he said. “I get that the government just doesn’t want to hand out money to somebody that can afford it. I get that part of it, but there’s quiet a lot of paperwork where you’ve got to prove that you don’t have any money.”
Any Thompson residents looking to get involved in Jumpstart can call Howell directly at 204-778-8888 (ext. 103) or visit him at the local Canadian Tire store located at 60 Selkirk Avenue.
“My wife and I are very dedicated to Jumpstart and if we can make a change in somebody’s life and get them down the right path, what more can somebody ask for?”