Gabriel Armitage-Point

Victoria Native Friendship Centre benefits from $10K sports, recreation grant

Saanich-based centre earns Let's Play grant from Canada Day Mott's

Purchasing a brand new football, volleyball or kayak comes at a price. And for a non-profit organization like the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, the price to buy new sports and recreation equipment isn’t within their annual budget.

“On average we spend $300 to $400 (annually) on upgrading some of our sports stuff that we need to replace – pool cues and maintenance things, but not to buy new equipment,” said Jeanette Mercer, youth services team leader at VNFC. “What we own is basketballs and a couple footballs, and that’s it. … They’re used so much that they wear out really fast.”

Last week, VNFC was gifted $10,000 worth of new equipment courtesy of a Canada Dry Mott’s Let’s Play grant.

“It’s an amazing gift we’ve received from them,” Mercer said. “It provides tremendous opportunities to our community. A lot of aboriginal people in Victoria navigate many issues and have really limited access to sports, mostly due to poverty.”

Mercer expects some 350 people use any number of the services provided at the VNFC, and says most, if not all of them, will benefit from this donation.

Last Wednesday, some of the children who use the VNFC had the opportunity to dig through piles of brand new footballs, soccer balls, basketballs and volleyball and play with them for the first time. A number of kayaks and gymnastics mats were also donated.

“We really believe in calories in and calories out, and really managing an active lifestyle. So what we want to do is be able to provide as many kids across Canada with access to more play,” said Sara Rezaee, spokesperson for Canada Dry Mott’s.

The Native Friendship Centre is one of three charities across Canada to benefit from a $10,000 injection of sports equipment.

Mercer says it’s tough in the current economic climate to find money and grants specifically for promoting an active lifestyle, so this Let’s Play grant is quite the windfall.

“There’s no way we could get $10,000 (worth of equipment) without this grant,” she said. “This is just going to increase physical activity in our community, and accessibility to children and youth and their families. We already do a lot with kids and youth, but this is just going to increase what we can offer them.”

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