Community Better Challenge - Cochrane SPARkLErs Series: Episode 3
Today we are going to be talking with Brad Ellard with Jumpstart Charities in Alberta. This is the 3rd in our series of Cochrane SPARkLErS, SPort, Physical Activity, REcreation LEaders.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and how you came to be in this role.
I am the regional manager for Jumpstart charities, based in Calgary. I live with my wife and 2 young boys. I’ve also lived in Edmonton for a period in my life. I’ve been an Albertan all my life and moved around the province. I’ve seen almost every corner of the province through career opportunities and traveling.
My role in Jumpstart is to find ways to distribute funding over the region to help kids overcome financial or accessibility barriers to sport. The best part of my job is being able to work with organizations of similar minds and getting to give everyone the benefits of being active and sport and letting them be part of the community in that capacity.
What makes Jumpstart unique as a funder?
When I first started with Jumpstart 4 years ago the most unique thing I found is that pretty much every Canadian is able to tie back to the Canadian Tire side of the business. And then looping in Jumpstart where I was fortunate enough to have access to equipment through Canadian Tire. And in that way it’s unique because it’s a Canadian charity that is able to help Canadian groups and individuals. With that, there’s also the scope. Its a national charity and there’s a Canadian Tire with in an hour of almost everyone, and if not they can access it online as well. There’s many organizations that are really able to focus on the communities they live in and Jumpstart can take care of things at a more national level when needed to help in many ways, not only to help the organization but even the kids as well.
Tell us a little bit about the source of the funding and specifically Cochrane and how generous the support has been here.
The main funding is from the point of purchase at Canadian Tire, Sport Chek, Marks, any of those banner stores that the Canadian Tire organization owns. It’s a round up system or you can donate one or two dollars. When you donate in your community the money will stay in your region, so you will be helping someone you might know around you.
We also have some greater national campaigns in which we can market and drive donations through our website. We are currently in Jumpstart month so we try to raise funding in various ways throughout the month. With this we can also raise awareness as to the benefits and what Jumpstart can provide.
Specifically in Cochrane, back in 2021 we raised almost $40,000 in the community which is really unbelievable and it all went back out into the community. I can’t say that we’re sitting on any of the money. We found a way to distribute it in the year and make a difference in the community.
Tell us about the projects that stood out to you in our community that benefitted from those dollars.
We have a really good relationship with the Spray Lakes Family Sport Center and we were able to help them out with some programs there. They ran the ‘Girl Be You’ program and the ‘Fitness for All’ program that were reaching some different population groups. Also through the pandemic we were able to provide some Jumpstart sport relief funding as well which really made a difference for those organizations that really needed the help. I think the biggest champion and someone you should shout out is the store owner of the Canadian Tire in Cochrane, Rob Hatch. Rob and his employees are really connected to the same side of Jumpstart that we’re hoping for. He hosts his own Jumpstart games for the community, gives away donations when he can, and I’m sure he’s doing something right now for Jumpstart month as well. Cochrane is it’s own chapter in terms of Jumpstart and it’s not connected to Calgary so you know if you’re donating to Jumpstart it will go straight back into Cochrane.
How does Jumpstart continue to seek ways of removing barriers in sport and making sure that every community is able to get the support that they need, even if they don’t have much experience in grant writing.
As you mentioned, we have our grant writing process and that has guidelines that we have to follow and we try to treat that as fairly as possible. However, with Jumpstart it doesn’t stop after the funding has been given. We stay in contact with those organizations that we’ve helped and that’s where my role comes in as a regional manager. From that we continue to learn the best practices, what went well, and what could have gone better. At times getting that funding can be challenging, for example the Aboriginal Sports Circle up in Yellow Knife and they are obviously working with many remote groups through their efforts. Our equipment grant system works by giving the family a voucher for the equipment that they can then take to their store to be able to get the equipment. That works for me and you because there are stores nearby but if you’re in a fly in fly out community it doesn’t work so well. Through that back and forth we’ve been working with them to try to find ways to get the equipment to them through the corporate and logistical side of things. That really comes from community outreach that the regional managers do, helping communities, and finding new communities that need some support. With Jumpstart we’re saying “we’re here, how can we help you” instead of saying how it needs to be done. We realize that they’re the experts in their field so we just ask them how we can support them. It could be funding, access to equipment, volunteers, or anything they might need.
We’ve also introduced a Canadian Tire corporate volunteer program so all the organizations that we’re helping out can put in an application to have us help them with the marketing or the organizational part of the sport for a short period of time.
We’ve got our inclusive play project out in Toronto and they’re developing out community assets all over the country including inclusive playgrounds and multisport courts as well.
What were the key takeaways from The 2022 Jumpstart State of Sport report that we can all learn from?
The report was about the impacts of Covid on sport and from the first one we can see that everyone was impacted greatly and some sport organizations didn’t even know if they could keep going. And what I can see from the second one is that it’s a pretty similar message. People are more comfortable with going out and doing things now but that doesn’t mean that the challenges have gone away from the sport organization perspective. It’s mostly the cost aspect on both sides. That turns into less programs meaning less opportunities for kids to be involved in sports.
This leads into the second impact which is child's health and well-being as well. They aren’t being as active or hanging out with friends as much and they don’t get the benefits of being an active individual. Over half of the respondents to that survey at the organizational level said they’re not going to be back to pre Covid levels until 2024, if not longer.
I think the biggest take away is that you can’t just sit on the sidelines, you need to find ways to get involved even if it’s small.
What are some small steps that organizations could take for their long term sustainability and inclusion?
A gap that I have found that people and organizations are still trying to learn is the difference between equity and equality. Equity being giving everyone the tools that they need and what works for them and equality is giving everyone the same tool even though they can’t all use it. This aspect I think comes from empathy for the people around us.
Another gap is the way that we deliver sports to youth. It hasn’t really changed since I’ve grown up. There’s practice, and there’s games, and there’s tournaments. This way definitely works for some, but not all. For example the travel tournaments or team coats, yet there’s some that might not be able to afford it so that creates a barrier. It would be nice to have more program offerings that suit the different situations of the kids or holding back registration for those families that have to drive into the location to register.
Another gap I would say is representation at all levels. Having more representation shows groups and individuals a sense of belonging.
What are some things that Jumpstart is doing around educating coaches and leaders?
We have a few online courses through the Respect group based in Calgary. We’ve built out the ‘Coaching Kids with all Abilities’ course and these courses are really intended for coaches, leaders, trainers, volunteers, and even people that work at rec. facilities that are working with and around kids. We work with paralympic ambassadors and individuals that we work with from Jumpstarts perspective to listen to their stories and create the courses to be able to teach people how to help kids of all abilities in sports. We also have keeping girls in sport as another online course. It’s intended to teach people that haven't had much experience with girls in sport about how to coach and team them so that we can keep the passion alive in them.
We also have our Jumpstart play from home hub which is something that we developed when everything shut down in the pandemic. We worked with the community partners that we have connections with to give people fun games they could play at home even if you don’t have the equipment. This was just a response to the pandemic but it created a whole new reach for people that might not have had the opportunity themselves. And we’ve still been keeping it going.
What would you do with the $100,000 from the Community Better Challenge?
I would hope that we could close up those gaps that covid left. My vow would be to increase the capacity for sports meaning training coaches, get more people volunteering, and really find a way to change the delivery of sports. Understanding and addressing the needs of the community and of the individual.
Links and resources
- Donate to Jumpstart https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/donate
- Apply for an Individual Child Grant https://jumpstartgrants.smartsimple.ca/s_Login.jsp
- Apply for a Community Development Grant https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/community-development-grants
- State of Sport Report https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/the-state-of-sport-in-canada
- Coaching resources https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/resources-for-organizations
- Play from Home HUB https://jumpstart.canadiantire.ca/pages/resources-for-parents