Canadian kids have missed an estimated 277 million hours of playing sports due to COVID-19

Sep 20 2021, 9:14 pm

The impact of the pandemic has undoubtedly been felt by adults, but what about its toll on kids and youth across Canada?

When schools were closed throughout the last year and a half, children were removed from their routines and required to adapt to homeschooling and virtual learning, seeing their classmates on a screen as opposed to in person.

Because of the separation from the classroom environment and their usual after-school activities involving outdoor play and organized sports, the well-being of kids has been severely impacted. At the same time, community sport and recreation organizations have also been affected.

From March to December 2020, there was an estimated 277,588,970 hours of sport participation lost for kids living in low-income households across Canada. This loss has had a devastating impact on kids both physically and mentally as the opportunity to play is about so much more than just getting active. Play teaches kids important life skills like courage, confidence, and teamwork.

A State of Sport report by Jumpstart conducted earlier this year revealed that 74% of parents say their kids are feeling isolated and lonely and 69% say their kids are already showing signs of being less physically fit. In addition, 64% say kids are finding it hard to reduce stress and anxiety. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder that 87% of parents say their kids are very much looking forward to a return to sport and play.

This is why Jumpstart Charities, an organization established in 2005 to help kids overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation, is calling on Canadians to help save sports this month — during its Jumpstart Month campaign. The goal of which is to ensure all kids can continue to access sport and recreation, especially as we dive into a new school year. 

However, there are many systemic barriers to sport and play for several communities, which limit access to sport for kids. These communities include girls and young women, Indigenous children and youth, and Black youth and families in financial need.

Through Jumpstart’s Sport Relief Fund, the charity prioritized immediate relief funding for community sport organizations that support those facing systemic barriers as it’s the charity’s objective to ensure all kids can access sport and recreation.

During the pandemic, Jumpstart’s Sport Relief Fund provided support in the form of grants that helped cover programming and operational needs for community sport organizations. This helped them keep their doors open and give kids access to play. 

“Because we received support from organizations like Jumpstart, Take a Hike was able to quickly adapt our program during the pandemic by moving clinical counselling online and increasing COVID health and safety measures for outdoor activities,” Nav Nagra, marketing and communications manager at Take A Hike Foundation, tells Daily Hive.

She continues, “We were able to empower youth through adventure-based learning and increase the mental health of youth in our program. We were able to encourage resilience and self-confidence for youth, and we were able to continue providing our programs to the youth who truly needed it — especially during the pandemic.”

Since its inception in 2005, Jumpstart has disbursed more than $214 million to help over 2.4 million kids access sport and recreation.

Now, throughout September, you can give back by donating in-store at Canadian Tire retail locations across Canada. When you donate in-store, 100% of donations stay within the community — to help give local kids a sporting chance. In addition, for every donation over $2 made in-store, you’ll receive a limited-edition Jumpstart three-piece chalk set (while supplies last) for supporting Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. 

To learn more or donate online, visit

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