Lethbridge families urged to fit sports into budget: ‘We want kids to be healthy’ – Lethbridge

Family budgets are feeling the pressure of inflation and registering kids for sports has become a daunting expense for many – but some recreation workers say signing kids up for a local team is well worth the investment.

“Recreation and play are very, very important to the growth and development of children,” said Sunni Belle, General Manager of Recreation Excellence Lethbridge.

“Socializing, making judgments, learning to solve problems – (children learn) all these things and there’s more.”

According to Belle, the number of city pool users has yet to return to pre-pandemic numbers, and she believes the economy likely plays a role.

“There may be some financial hurdles to overcome. Another thing could be that people just don’t know what’s out there,” she said.

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Hockey is a sport that can cost thousands of dollars and, in theory, should be hit hard by the lack of registration.

But Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association general manager Keith Hitchcock said that’s not the case.

“This is the highest number of applicants we’ve had since 2019 — we’re right around the same number,” he said.

A big part of that, Hitchcock added, is the range of programs that can fit almost any budget.

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“Our program ranges from $400 per child to $8,000 per child,” he explained. And these are more affordable programs in which enrollments are increasing.

Family cost reduction programs are also available. Genny Hunter-Barr, KidSport Lethbridge & Taber board chair, said it can be nerve-racking to ask for financial help.

“A lot of people are proud and it’s really hard for them to ask. But I think it’s important for their children.”

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Hunter-Barr predicts that the number of applications in 2023 will be higher than usual.

“Many people have had a difficult three years and, yes, we want our children to play sports. We want children to be healthy.

“We want kids to be kids.”

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