The province is establishing a new scholarship program to help children and youth participate in sports, physical and cultural activities during and after government care.
Young people in and out of care face barriers that limit their participation in sports and other activities. Financial hurdles like sports registration fees or practical challenges like getting to and from training can become obstacles. The province is investing $3.6 million to create equal opportunities with the new RISE grant program. RISE stands for Resilient, Inspire, Strength and Engage.
“All children and young people have the right to play and should be able to participate and grow in the benefits that sports and cultural programs offer,” said Melanie Mark, Secretary of State for Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Sport is the great balance. It has the power to foster a strong sense of belonging while building trust and resilience in young people. The new RISE grants were created to open doors for young people in and out of government care to increase their participation in sports, culture and leisure programmes. Our government is committed to helping young people thrive in and out of care, dream big and excel in all aspects of their lives.”
RISE seeks to enable and encourage participation and connect young people to their communities and culture to have a positive impact on their young lives. The program will provide direct financial support to around 350 young people per year for the next five years, helping them to play sports and take part in cultural activities.
Grants of up to $1,000 per year help individuals meet the cost of registration, equipment, and travel for athletic, physical, and cultural activities. Examples of eligible activities:
- sports such as football, hockey and basketball;
- physical activities such as drop-in fitness or aquafit classes; and
- cultural programs such as traditional indigenous dance, hiking, arts and canoeing.
Grants of up to $10,000 are also available for organizations to develop and implement programs for children and youth in and out of care.
“Participating in sporting and cultural activities helps children and young people be more active and connect with their community and peers,” said Minister for Child and Family Development Mitzi Dean. “Indigenous youth and young people in and from homes often do not have the same access to sports as other youth and that is why I am so excited that the RISE program will allow more children and youth in and from homes to participate in The Art of activities that we know can have positive effects that last a lifetime.”
The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC) developed the program and will administer it in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport and the Department of Children and Family Development. ISPARC is a provincial organization established with the goal of improving the health outcomes of indigenous peoples by supporting and encouraging physically active individuals, families and communities.
“The power of sport, culture and leisure contributes to transformative and social change. It is the common thread across our diverse cultures that connects the physical, intellectual, emotional, cultural and spiritual facets of life,” said Rick Brant, CEO of ISPARC. “We are proud to be working with the BC Government to implement this new grant program. Making sports, cultural activities and recreation more accessible will advance our shared goals for a healthier future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth in and out of care.”
“This is a huge win for Indigenous youth and all youth in and out of government care,” said Isaac Foot, a member of the Youth Advisory Committee to the Secretary of State for Child and Family Development. “Athletics was very important in my upbringing as it provided me with a safe and fun space to grow in an otherwise tumultuous life. Endurance, resilience and communication are skills that I developed through sport and that I still carry with me every day. Participating in each activity creates opportunities to connect through all the troubles and laugh together and grow with others, even when times are tough. I am pleased to know that through this program, others like me have better access to the activities that are important to them.”
These and other initiatives, such as the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, which waives tuition for BC students who are custodians and attend public post-secondary institutions, also underscore the government’s commitment to the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act Action Plan and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls for action.
For more information on the RISE scholarship program, including eligibility and application process, visit ISPARC’s website: https://isparc.ca/
For more information on transition support and programs for youth in and out of care go to: www.gov.bc.ca/youthtransitions
A backgrounder follows.