The Sports For Smiles team recently donated $500 to two rural communities in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
Sports For Smiles is a non-profit organization that strives to provide youth with sports opportunities, equipment, and leadership seminars who have limited access to sports opportunities mainly due to the remoteness of their communities.
“Our goal is to provide Canadian youth with the opportunity to play sports and connect and engage with others in a fun and friendly environment,” said South Delta Secondary grad Janeva Shahi, who is the organizations’ founder. “We are striving to give youth the experience of not only being a part of a team, but a second family, while developing a sense of community, leadership and teamwork. With the help of our team's local high school and communities across the Metro Vancouver area, we have developed a project that aims to benefit youth across Canada, especially those of northern and rural communities.”
Following community fundraisers throughout the pandemic, the team gathered funds and has received generous equipment donations for their two sponsor communities: Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan and Inuvik, NWT.
In 2021, the group has planned online leadership seminars over Skype to further engage with community youth, and break the barriers between rural and urban communities in sports.
The group’s goal is to select a different community every year and positively impact youth in each community who would otherwise not have access to the resources and information regarding sports and leadership opportunities of different grades.
“There is a significant difference between urban communities such as Vancouver and Toronto, and further isolated communities that are rural,” added Shahi. “We are aware of the lack of sports opportunities in rural communities. This is our main drive as we want Canada's rural communities to have equal opportunities that we youth in British Columbia have. Instead of simply identifying these to two types of communities as different areas in isolation and moving on, we want to connect them and create a national community on the basis of sports and leadership.”