A program being run by the Coronation Elks is helping youth across Paintearth County access sports.
The “Kids Can Play” program was started up under the Coronation Elks in March of 2022, and since that time has been offering sporting goods and equipment to families in the region at no charge.
According to Elks member Matthew Peacock, the program is able to equip a wide variety of youth in sports. Baseball, golf, hockey and more equipment is usually available.
For the 2022-2023 hockey season, Peacock says that 27 kids were outfitted with protective gear for sport which is a considerable cost-savings to parents at a time when other costs are escalating out of control.
“Times are hard,” said Peacock.
A considerable amount of the gear in the program has been donated, but some has been bought new, or secondhand, thanks to a $7,300 donation made to the program by Paintearth’s 100 Women Who Care.
“The community involvement has been great,” said Peacock, noting that many people have donated sets of gently used equipment that their own kids have outgrown.
Youth do not have to be part of organized sports to borrow equipment either.
Parents can sign out anything that Peacock has in inventory, such as skates, golf clubs, etc.
While Peacock does not expect the equipment to be returned at the end of any given sporting season, he does expect communication with the parents. The parents are able to hang on to gear for the following season, as long as they feel it will still fit their child. If they outgrow something, they are welcome to come in and try for more properly sized equipment.
“Safety gear doesn’t work if it doesn’t fit properly,” said Peacock.
“You can’t sacrifice quality and safety.”
Peacock says that Kids Can Play operates on a first-come, first-serve basis, but so far, thanks to the generosity of the community, very few youth have been turned away. He also notes that equipment that he is short for this season he is adding to a list to possibly purchase for next, if funds allow.
Something else Peacock realizes is, if kids are playing, having fun and using equipment, it is going to break. He notes that if it does, parents aren’t “going to be punished” for it.
“It’s not brand new gear. It’s being used.”
While the majority of the gear is second-hand, Peacock inspects everything himself, and nothing unsafe goes out the door. According to Peacock, if something breaks, parents just need to contact him for potential replacement for their child, providing he has the appropriate size in inventory.
According to Peacock, the program came about after “hearing parents talking” about a perceived need for this type of program. Peacock notes that with the cost of new sports gear, fuel and fees, some parents were beginning to look at whether they were able to keep their kids in sport.
“This is an option so you don’t have to pay for equipment,” said Peacock.
“Anywhere you can save the parents money. You have got to start the savings somewhere. You’ve gotta give back, you can’t not do it.”
Peacock also says that the program is great for new parents to sports or for those moving into the region and not know where to even begin.
Fortunately, Peacock is not having to manage the program by himself. His wife, Chelsea, has also been a huge support and handles the Google spreadsheets which track all the equipment in inventory, and which equipment is out and where it is.
To arrange equipment, or find out what is currently available, contact Peacock at 587-877-1146. The program is open to all County of Paintearth residents, including residents of Castor, Halkirk, and Brownfield.