Renee Doucette with her sons Ryan (left to right)

Jumpstart program kept her kids in the game

Wthout help of program, sports would not have been an option for the Doucette family growing up

Growing up, sports were always a big part of Renee Doucette’s life.

But when she moved to B.C. from Alberta in 2000 as a single mother with her three young sons Ryan, Ritchie and Reagan — who were between the ages of five and eight — times were tough.

The boys’ father battled drug addiction which led to the couple breaking up and Renee moving west to start over.

With their father not involved in their lives and moving to a place where they had no family, things were not easy.

“Needless to say, life was quite a bit of a struggle for us,” Renee said. “And it always has been.

“It took me a little while to get back to work and to get back in the swing of things after moving here.

“We had what we needed to get by and that was it; there wasn’t room for anything extra. There was not even $5 to put towards sports.”

With no registration cost to join a flag football league, she signed up all three boys. But eventually it was going to cost money to keep her kids in organized sport and Renee knew the values she learned from playing as a child.

“Sports was a huge part of my childhood and I wanted them to have that mentoring that sports provides and to get out there with other kids,” she explained.

Sports taught her about self-esteem, independence, strength, camaraderie and mentorship, all things she wanted to instill in her children.

Ron Bunting, the principal at Shortreed Elementary where her boys were students, mentioned the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program as a way to help the family out.

Jumpstart is a nationally registered charity dedicated to removing financial barriers so kids across Canada have the opportunity to get off the sidelines and into the game.

According to a Vision Critical 2011 study, one in three Canadian families cannot afford to enrol their child in organized sport and physical activity.

The program is for kids between the ages of four and 18 and helps families with the costs associated with registration, equipment and/or transportation for sports.

Jumpstart provides financial assistance for families who can’t afford to enrol their kids in organized sport, and has helped more than 730,000 kids in the past nine years. One hundred per cent of every donation stays in the community in which it was made.

With the help of Jumpstart, all three boys played football and baseball.

Asking for help can be difficult.

“They definitely had to overcome that,” she explained about any stigma about needing help.

“It was hard for them to have to use second-hand equipment, it was hard for them to not have the nicer clothes or sports equipment or whatever, but that being said, they all excelled and became better young men because of sports.”

They were also helped by the local associations, who sometimes didn’t make them pay the registration costs if the family was short, Renee added.

“They never knew how I managed to get them into sports,” Renee said. “That being said, I always made them aware that there was a lot of generosity that made it possible for them.”

Reagan, the youngest, excelled the most of the three, especially in football with the Langley Minor Football Association.

The 19-year-old is still involved in football, hoping to play junior this season. And he knows that without Jumpstart, none of this may have happened.

“Without Jumpstart and the help of my coaches, I wouldn’t have been able to play,” he said.

“I love sports; they definitely give kids who don’t have much something to do. It gives them a purpose and confidence and sports are perfect for that.”

Gary Ahuja/Langley Times file photo

Langley Stampeders’ Reagan Doucette (#17) fends off a Meadowridge Knights tackler during Langley Minor Football’s annual Golden Helmet Tournament at McLeod Athletic Park back in August.

•••

Saturday (May 31) marks the sixth annual Jumpstart Day and the Langley Canadian Tire (6312 200 St.) will host a day-long event in celebration of the Jumpstart Red Ball campaign. Throughout the month of May, customers were encouraged to donate $2 in exchange for a Red Ball — a national symbol for child’s play. Saturday’s festivities will include a barbecue and activities for the whole family.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include special guests Canadian snowboarder Maelle Ricker and former B.C. Lion Angus Reid.

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