Have harsh financial times fallen upon your divorced family? Are you worried your kids will have to go without sports activities, day camps, trips to the zoo, etc. this summer?
Because of the recession, many of you are struggling to put food on the table, let alone pay for fun summer camps/programs for your children. But I’m writing this article to give you hope: many organizations offer fee assistance, and you and your kids may be eligible.
I live in Calgary, Alberta, so the proceeding info applies mainly to Canadians. But chances are excellent that financial support is available in various forms in the United States as well. You just need to know where/how to look for it. Please use my prompts as guidelines. If you know of any other resources for single parents in these circumstances, please add them in the Comments of this blog.
1. Check with your city’s sports and recreation centers. By googling “city of Calgary" and “fee assistance recreation,” I quickly discovered that my city offers a subsidized program for low-income families. This program provides free use of their city-wide, recreation centre facilities for up to 40 visits within one year’s time. They also offer reduced rates for the city’s recreation programs — we’re talking 10% of the cost for programs such as dance, swimming, martial arts, even skating.
This 10% cost ALSO applies to DAY CAMPS. They also provide a few free passes to city attractions whose memberships or day rates you can’t afford, ie, The Calgary Zoo.
To apply, you must complete their required application forms and provide proof of your financial circumstances, ie: bank statements, child/spousal payments, monthly bills including utilities, mortgage/rent, insurance etc. For circumstances that are more difficult to explain, you can also enclose a personal letter that details your family’s situation.
2. Check your local YMCA Chapter. The YMCA offers severely reduced membership and program costs to families in need, which are valid for three months (after which you can reapply if necessary). Their financial assistance applies to day camps and all registered programs and sports activities as well.
The YMCA in Calgary does interviews on a walk-in basis for anyone who wants to apply. You simply need to look at their interview times online and bring in the documents/household bills they request. A YMCA representative will sit down with you, review your situation, and decide based on your numbers the kind of discount you’re eligible to receive.
3. KidSport Canada. KidSport Canada is all about making sure that ALL kids have the opportunity to participate and grow through sports involvement. They have chapters in most major cities in Canada. Each family is eligible to receive $400 for each child during a calendar year that can be applied to sports, required equipment, and even travel to/from the activities.
4. Talk to other parents. Through talking to an acquaintance, a friend of mine found out about subsidized day camps at the Calgary Science Centre. Turned out this acquaintance had some clout and was able to get my friend’s kids in a week-long day camp for FREE.
One final note: Your financial circumstances may feel embarrassing to you, hence you don’t want to bring it up with other people. But remember — everyone goes through tough times. Everyone. Right now during this recession, thousands of other families are in the same shoes as you.
At the end of the day, this is about minimizing the effects of this tough time on our kids and allowing them the enjoyment and learning of sports. I applaud all of these organizations and those who donate to their causes. I think we’d all prefer our kids to be doing sports than being bored and up to no-good at the local 7/11.