Jump starting a life in sports

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

COLLINGWOOD — The one thing you didn’t hear on Thursday at Central Park Arena was anyone saying “I can’t.”

Six Olympians and Paralympians, 250 pupils from eight area schools and some Canadian Tire employees gathered at the arena last week to celebrate the very first Team Canada Jumpstart games.

“I am excited because this is the first Team Canada Jumpstart games in Canada and it is right here in Collingwood,” says Dan Webster, owner of the Canadian Tire store in Collingwood. Webster, along with the town’s parks, recreation and culture department and Healthy Kids’ Jennifer Park came up with the idea.

“And we have about 250 (students) that are going to play all day today.”

Brad Bowman, member of the gold medal sledge hockey team that competed in Sochi, showed kids the ins and outs of sledge hockey. Mike Ideson, Paralympic champion in wheelchair curling, ran floor curling out on the tennis courts. Dylan Moscovitch, Sochi silver medalist in pairs ice skating, ran kids through a cross-country skiing course.

“Today is a play day for the kids in Collingwood to give them a chance to play sports that they probably have never had the chance to before on a daily basis,” said Eric Cartlidge, regional manager for Central Ontario for Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

“We have some Para sports here; wheelchair basketball, wheelchair curling, that they probably wouldn’t have a chance to play before just to give them a sense of just what Para sports is. With the kids that do have disabilities, it gives them a better sense of activity.”

The day was a win for the athletes as well.

Also included was Chris Stoutenburg, two-time gold medalist in wheelchair basketball, Phillip Brown, an Alpine skier, and Calynn Irwin, a member of the national snowboarding team.

“The athletes just get a sense of support ... I know they are showing off some of the hardware they have won over the years, but I think the kids are the biggest fans,” said Cartlidge.

Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a national charity that helps kids from ages 4-18 from families in financial need to participate in organized sports and physical activity. More than 1.4 million kids have been helped by the program since in began in 2005.

All of the proceeds from customer donations stay in the communities in which the donation was made.

The day was also designed to teach the kids about team-building and good sportsmanship.

“I am very grateful for all of my opportunities and lessons that I have learned through sport. Sports are fun, and I think that it’s really important to stay healthy and be involved in different sports in your community because there is a lot of things that you can learn through them. I think that every kid should have that opportunity regardless of your background and ability and I think that Jumpstart is doing an incredible job at creating these opportunities,” said Moscovitch.

Lessons aside, Webster was glad just to give the kids a day to play.

“I think it can be really inspiring for the kids,” said Webster. “It also demonstrates that there is something more to life than just sitting in front of a computer or a smartphone.” 

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