The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang give athletes from around the world the chance to showcase the powers of human drive, determination, and discipline. But even as they set new records for sport, many Olympic athletes have trouble finding the financial support they need.
For instance, check out this story about Evan Dunfee, the Olympic speed-walker. He had to make an appeal on social media for new shoes, because when his old ones wore out, he couldn’t afford to replace them.
It’s a problem, but luckily there’s something you can do about it. A number of Canadian sports charities not only support Olympic athletes, but help all athletes share in the beneficial effects of competition. This Olympic season, don’t just watch athletes achieve great things—help out.
For a Canadian athlete to make their mark at the Olympics, they need to start training five to eight years in advance of the event. And in order to do that, they need funding. The Canadian Olympic Foundation raises funds to support the Canadian Olympic team, as well as other future Canadian high-performance athletes.
Funds are distributed based on input from Own the Podium (OTP), which identifies competitions in which Canadian athletes have the greatest potential to claim a medal. OTP also administers a seminar program for athletes and coaches, which aims to create an environment in which future Olympic medallists can develop.
Canadian Athletes Now (CAN) Fund helps both summer and winter, able-bodied and Paralympic athletes support Canada on the world stage. With money from CAN Fund, athletes get help fulfilling their equipment, coaching, nutrition, and travel expenses.
To date, the organization has raised over $26 million for Canadian athletes. And four out of five athletes who competed in the Vancouver, London, Sochi, and Rio games received funding. For many Olympic athlete, funding from CAN Fund is key to being able to compete.
In Canada, track and field doesn’t get the same level of public attention as sports like hockey or baseball. Still, it’s partly through their performance in track and field sports at the Olympics that Canadian athletes represent their country to the rest of the world.
Athletics Canada is the cornerstone of track and field in Canada. Athletes who want to compete in track and field sports, or their para-athletic equivalents, are able to do so because Athletics Canada organizes competitions, rankings, and coaching programs for them. And some of those athletes go on to represent Canada on the world stage.
The True Sport Foundation advocates for the value of a healthy, ethical sporting culture for young people.
It was established by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), as a means of preventing harmful trends in athletics—doping, violence, and other negative behaviour—before they could develop.
By educating groups and individuals about fair play, inclusivity, and positivity, the True Sport Foundation aims to build a healthy athletic culture in Canada, and set up the next generation of athletes for success.
Right to Play believes in the transformative power of play to improve the lives of children, specifically those in areas affected by violence and poverty.
They coach teachers in developing countries to use play-based education in their classrooms, helping to teach kids community-strengthening, potentially life-saving skills.
For instance, children might play a game of Defender Volleyball, where the goal is not to attack others, but to protect them from harm. It may seem simple, but it’s an early lesson in conflict resolution for children raised in countries affected by war.
Additional education in building strong, peaceful communities; fighting gender inequality; and practicing hygiene and preventative health measures all work to improve the lives of children, and the adults they will become.
Since 1968, Special Olympics Canada has been working to make sure every Canadian, regardless of ability, can enjoy the benefits of athletic competition.
According to their mission statement, Special Olympics is, for the people who participate, “often the only place where they have an opportunity to develop a strong belief in themselves.”
And, by creating a public platform through which people with intellectual disabilities can compete and demonstrate their own capability and personal dignity, Special Olympics Canada has helped reshape the attitudes of society.
Special Olympics Canada works with kids, youths, and adults. Whether or not participants go on to compete, the organization’s programs works to prepare them for a lifetime of healthy activity and engagement in sport.
The mission of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Association (CCPSA) is to ensure that anyone with cerebral palsy is able to access high-quality athletic activities. The CCPSA is the National Sport Organization for boccia.
Boccia is a sport similar to bocce. Originally, it was designed for people with cerebral palsy, but now includes athletes with severe motor skill disabilities. The game is always mixed-gender, and played in over 50 countries worldwide.
Boccia the first sport developed specifically for people with impaired motor function; there is no equivalent for non-disabled people. For many people, participation in boccia may be the first time they get the chance to compete in a sport. The CCPSA manages boccia programs and competitions throughout Canada.