Shelburne resident launches initiative to bring sports equipment to youth

·3 min read

Basketballs, jump rope, and Frisbees. For many, these sports items are childhood staples and one Shelburne resident is ensuring children in the community will have them to play with come the spring and summer.

Laura Wagstaff, a former Centre Dufferin District High School (CDDHS) student, has started a local initiative called Project Play For All, which provides children from families struggling financially with sports equipment.

“A lot of my childhood was spent outside playing sports and the thought of kids in my community missing out on that because they don’t have access to equipment at home, really bothered me and I thought there’s got to be something I can do about this,” Wagstaff tells the Free Press.

Wagstaff is currently a student at the University of Toronto, where she is studying kinesiology with the hopes of one day becoming a Phys. Ed teacher. While working on a paper for school, studying the youth sports crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she came across troubling statistics and trends.

“What I discovered is youth participation in sports and physical activity has really been alarmingly decreasing and part of the reason for that being, is a lot of kids depend on school programming for sports and physical activity,” said Wagstaff.

When students made the return to school back in September, one of the restrictions put in place was the cancelling of school-based athletics.

“With the school closures and restrictions, there just really hasn’t been a lot of access to sports,” said Wagstaff.

Seeing a way to help youth in the community stay active, Wagstaff began developing the local initiative and at the beginning of March officially launched Project Play For All.

She is now turning to the community asking for donations of new or gently used sports equipment including basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, standard rubber playground balls, Frisbees, skipping rope and ball pumps.

“I thought it would be easier to narrow it down to a few specific items, I thought it was a pretty good variety. I’ve kind of set an age range of kindergarten to grade eight and so most of those things can be used by kids through all those ages and genders as well.”

Wagstaff also noted she chose the equipment that would be COVID friendly.

Since launching the local initiative, Wagstaff said she’s been overwhelmed with the support and response from the community

“I’ve been kind of nervous for a while to launch it because I didn’t really know what the response would be, but it’s been great.”

A Go Fund Me for monetary donations has also been started with the goal of reach $1000. At the time of print, the page has received $850 in donations.

Wagstaff will be accepting donations throughout the month of March as well as April, with items set to be given out in time for warmer weather.

If you would like to donate sports equipment to Project Play For All, contact their Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/projectplayforall.

Paula Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shelburne Free Press