Close to 500 elementary school kids from Prince George got to try their hand at numerous sporting activities today (Oct. 9) thanks to Canadian Tire's JumpStart program.
Students ranging in age from 10-13 participated in the first-ever Prince George JumpStart Games at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
Denis Stark, Director of Student Recruitment, shared his experiences of sport at the university with the students in attendance.
"I used to use this facility when I was an undergraduate student studying business at UNBC," he said. "I had a business degree. I also played for the UNBC athletics basketball team. Events like these are extremely important."
"At JumpStart, we are dedicated to helping all kids have the chance to play," Prince George Canadian Tire Dealer Selen Aplay said. "And that's exactly what we're doing here today. We have different students from all different houses in this building."
Schools included were:
- Buckhorn Elementary School
- Edgewood Elementary School
- Hart Highlands Elementary School
- Nusdeh Yoh Elementary School
- Peden Hill Elementary School
- Ron Brent Elementary School
- Springwood Elementary School
- Van Bien Elementary School
- Vanway Elementary School
Students were also treated to having Canadian 19-time Paralympic medallist and world-record holder swimmer Stephanie Dixon, who is an official ambassador for Canadian Tire's JumpStart program, on hand.
Dixon won seven Paralympic Games gold medals, one silver and two bronze.
She made her games debut at just 16 years of age at the Sydney 2000 games, where she took home five gold medals, three of which were world-record times.
Dixon is also a 10-time world champion, with an impressive five titles at 14 years old in 1998.
She officially retired in 2010.
"I am so excited to be in Prince George, this is my first time here," Dixon told the students.
She then asked the students what they think people may feel about her because she uses crutches after being born without her right leg.
"People feel sorry for me," added Dixon. "This is what happens all of the time because they think that somebody looks different, they should feel sorry for them. You might think that I can't do the same things as other people, so I want to show you guys a couple of things."
Dixon showed the students how she's able to balance without her crutches, even doing a squat and pull herself back up.
She's also learned how to walk without the use of her crutches.
But her ability to walk on her two hands in a handstand put the students in awe.
"I'm very proud to be an ambassador for JumpStart," she added. "JumpStart believes that all kids from all abilities deserve to play sports. Sometimes we just need the support of our friends around us to be creative."
Sports included wheelchair basketball, lacrosse, dance, soccer, flag football, capture the flag, octopus tag and life-sized rock-paper-scissors.
Since 2005, Canadian Tire has been able to give more than $800,000 to help more than 8,000 kids in Prince George participate in sport, recreation and play.