The founders of a new charitable organization want to eliminate barriers to getting involved in sports for Bulkley Valley youth.
Bulkley Valley Youth Sport Foundation (BVYSF) co-founder Jordie Hutchinson explained he and Philippe Bernier drew from the success and lasting legacy of the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation and Bulkley Valley Health Foundation as inspiration for their organization.
“We want to replicate that, but really with a focus on sport and youth in sport,” he said. “The primary mission is to provide access for youth in financial need to do outdoor activities in sports and recreation.”
The BVYSF has actually been in the works for some time. Organized in 2019, the foundation received seed funding from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union just before COVID-19 hit in February 2020.
Plans for a splashy launch have been on hold since, but the board, consisting of Hutchinson and Bernier along with Troy Van Damme and Chris Gleddie have used the intervening time to achieve some major goals. Primary among those was to garner charitable status with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which they got in December 2020.
They were also able to bring on two high-profile sports ambassadors to the foundation. Daniel Imhof and Dan Hamhuis were both raised in Smithers and have both recently returned to the valley following very successful professional careers in soccer and hockey respectively.
The BVYSF is currently waiting for things to fully open up again before planning any major events, but has been active in other minor ways.
This spring, for example, they were able to purchase nine sets of kids’ golf clubs that any child can sign out from the pro shop at the Smithers Golf and Country Club to try out the game without the costs associated with buying or renting.
The foundation is currently applying for funding from various granting agencies and looking for community partners and individual donors to set up their own granting program.
“The idea really, is individual youth with demonstrated financial need will be able to apply and the money dispersed to them to help them get access,” Hutchinson said.
Future plans also include the possibility of developing larger legacy projects that would benefit community youth.