Sure, Ottawa is considered by many to be an affluent city. We do after all, have one of the most educated populations in all of Canada and the highest concentration (per capita) of scientists, engineers and PhD graduates. But this shiny perspective also comes with a startling realization: there are still many people living in the Capital region that can’t afford basic needs, especially those families with children.
“One out of 4 children who access services and programs at Ottawa’s Ys require financial assistance to join youth programs and develop the life skills they need to be successful,” said Margot Lefebvre, manager of Annual Giving and Donor Stewardship. “If we invest in them at a young age, the whole community benefits.”
The YMCA-YWCAs of Ottawa, in addition to those across Canada, are launching this year’s Strong Kids Campaign to help children in their communities participate in Y programs that promote healthy living and develop leadership and social skills. The goal is to fundraise $150,000 within Ottawa and $13 million collectively. These funds will allow families to access the Y although they may not be able to afford the full cost of a membership. They also go towards the Y’s summer camps and provide subsidies for parents to access child care services.
“Last year we raised just over $120,000,” added Lefebvre. “It’s the biggest campaign focused on kids and we’re asking everyone in the community to contribute what they can.”
Running since 2007, the national campaign provides $1.4 million in fee forgiveness and financial aid. New events are added to this year’s line-up, running during February and March, including family activities to engage members across Ottawa. On March 23, the Y is hosting Cycle for Strong Kids, an indoor cycling race for teams of 4 people. Registration costs $50 and participants are asked to raise $100 in donations.
Mayor Jim Watson recently declared Feb. 15-March 15, 2014 as Y Strong Kids month in the city.
“Giving children a strong start is crucial to ensuring they can reach their full potential and lead healthy lives,” he said. “We need to ensure families continue to have access to meaningful programs and services like those offered by the YMCA-YWCA.”
To find register for the cycling event or to donate, visit the YMCA Strong Kids campaign website at ymcastrongkids.ca and choose the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region.