August, 2020

It takes a Village to raise a Child

KidsPlay is a registered charity founded by officer, Kal Dosanjh along with Kiran Toor working towards keeping kids away from the lifestyle of drugs, gangs, and violence.

KidsPlay Youth Foundation is a registered charity founded by the veteran officer, Kal Dosanjh. He is the CEO of KidsPlay in a volunteer capacity. Along with him, Kiran Toor is the President of the organization. KidsPlay is working towards keeping youth on the right track through free programs. Dosanjh is coming into his twentieth year with his respective law enforcement agency.

His journey of community service started as a five-year-old going to the Gurdwara with his mother and helping the elderly. This little boy at a young age understood the importance of helping those in need. The principles of selfless service were entrenched in him at a young age which he carries out beautifully and with dedication to this day. Toor attended Akal Academy Baru Sahib as a young girl. This well renowned institution gives children an opportunity to learn and prosper in an academically excelling and spiritual environment. These values are reflected in her work and are a leading factor in all her successes. She is a graduate of Simon Fraser University now working towards pursuing a master’s degree.

Both Kal and Kiran have inspired colleagues, family, and friends as well as community leaders to donate their time to community service. To date Kal, Kiran and the KidsPlay team have received recognition nationally and internationally. Their work has been recognized by local MPs and MLAs; Defense Minister Hon. Harjit Sajjan; Kal and KidsPlay Executive, Prabvir Tiwana were recognized at Canada 150 Community Awards; Kal was invited to the UK as a Global Leader in Social Impact – Bharat Samman Award at the House of Lords; Kal and Kiran were flown to Orlando, Florida, by Vancouver Whitecaps FC, to recognize KidsPlay and Kal as a community MVP; Kal recently received the Multiculturism Breaking Barriers Award by the Province of British Columbia; Surrey Board of Trade awarded KidsPlay Foundation the Non Profit of the Year Award in 2019.

The list of accomplishments is endless for the organization and this has only served as a source of inspiration for them to do more. These awards have highlighted their work and has allowed them to enable more opportunities for youth. 

“”I consider myself blessed to be able to create change alongside my mentor, Kal, and our awe inspiring team. KidsPlay has come this far with Kal’s leadership and the hard work of our team. We are fortunate to have our work recognized nationally and internationally – we owe this level of success to our team’s passion, sacrifices and unconditional will for selfless Seva,” says President, Kiran Toor.

KidsPlay’s programs fall under four streams – sports, education, mentorship, and environment. Sports include all sports and there is something for everyone. The flagship events include: KidsPlay BC Place Soccer Tournament with Vancouver Whitecaps FC which hosts thousands of kids each year; Annual Family Skate Day with Vancouver Giants; Annual Football Tournament with BC Lions; and many more tournaments, events, and camps. Education and Environment include weekly mentorship programs at elementary and high schools. These also include free field trips to the Science World, Vancouver Aquarium, PNE, and much more! The environment portfolio includes planting trees and creating environment friendly programs.

KidsPlay is an entirely volunteer run organization and many volunteers and those who have been attending the free programs have now gone onto becoming police officers, sheriffs, correctional officers, med school and law school students with all excelling in all aspects of life. KidsPlay’s goal is to guide youth onto a path that will develop them into prospering contributors on a global scale. The Foundation has had over 70,000 youth go through free of cost programs and has over 500 volunteers, primarily youth.

Kal and Kiran currently addressing the above-referenced matters through sport and gang and violence prevention programming. As an organization, KidsPlay has demonstrated the continued ability to deliver its various youth sports programs and anti-gang prevention programs in a professional and organized fashion. KidsPlay Foundation has developed a network of partners that provide wraparound services. These wraparound services ensure that youths’ basic needs are met. Furthermore, involvement with KidsPlay provides opportunities for interactions with positive role models and responsible adults.

Those who volunteer with KidsPlay Foundation are directly or indirectly affected by this havoc. Some of them have lost their siblings and loved ones and are hoping to save others from going through the same pain; some like police officer and Founder, Dosanjh, who have seen too much on the job to be able to just sit back and let someone else take action. This one hundred percent volunteer run organization is fueled by passion.

The bedrock and fundamental principle of these programs is to establish a rapport with the youth through the medium of sports. Organized sports are being used throughout the world as a dynamic mechanism to engage youth of all races, genders, and classes. Through the initiative of providing the youth with an opportunity to participate in free of cost resourceful programs, KidsPlay strives to bridge a gap between the youth and adults in a constructive manner. In doing so, providing young people with a positive identity and feelings of empowerment, whilst developing sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork and self governance skills.

KidsPlay’s ever-growing family includes, veteran law enforcement officer and KidsPlay Founder and CEO, Kal Dosanjh; Ambassador, Wally Oppal; the first ever Indian basketball player to play in the NBA, Satnam Singh; Indo-Canadian professional wrester, Jinder Mahal; the Whitecaps; the BC Lions; the Vancouver Giants,  Hockey Canada as well as a team of decorated volunteers, all working tirelessly towards one common goal: the youth.

 “What motivates us? We have all been directly or indirectly effected by the havoc wreaked by youth gang violence, and if we can play a small role in deterring even one youth from going down the path of no return, we have succeeded. However, if we can engage our youth in creating a movement and ridding our community of the youth and gang violence epidemic at its root, well, we just saved an entire generation. In the face of adversity, its time to come together and claim back our community, our youth.” – Jessica Sherman, KidsPlay Executive. Jessica Sherman lost her brother to gang violence in 2004.

She is honouring her bother’s legacy by creating opportunities for youth in hopes of preventing others from going through the anguishing pain her family has been through. “Jessica is an exceptional human being. For someone to go through such traumas, she serves as a source of inspiration for many young people. She has turned her pain into power and has chosen to walk the righteous path of Seva,” says Kal Dosanjh about Jessica.

KidsPlay runs weekly afterschool mentorship programs at six schools in Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford. These programs are run by mentors from KidsPlay. Parents and staff have stated if these programs had a fee, many of the students would be deprived of the opportunity to learn in such an environment. Eliminating the financial barrier takes a huge burden off the parents. These students also attend and volunteer at KidsPlay programs outside the school setting giving them a learning advantage outside the four walls of the classroom. Aside from that, they host drug and gang presentations in schools across the Lower Mainland.

KidsPlay is here to make a difference and after having over 70,000 youth go through free of cost programs, the organization has the tools and experience to take on large scale projects and bring them to fruition. Providing pro-social, pro-inclusion environments serve as protective barriers in keeping youth away from participating in anti-social and problematic behavior. According to research provided by the United Nations, resourceful programs “can be used to develop citizenship values in young people.”

During this unprecedented crisis, and COVID 19 on the rise, KidsPlay has been compelled to adjust, adapt, and evolve to address the drug and gang issue on new frontiers. They have teamed up with community partners to compile resources that can be made readily available to those in need. We have been working on providing online resources to the community and actively spearheading new online projects, such as podcasts and web series. The podcast series is in partnership with LiveBig Society, an organization founded by Lawyer, Sumit Ahuja, working towards helping struggling addicts get access to recovery homes. Considering the current circumstances, these measures allow the organizations to tackle and address issues which impact youth, while exercising diligence, safety, and social distancing.

The organization has hosted numerous milk, juice, and soup drives since March with Meadowfresh Dairy. They have made food, essentials and medications available to those in need. KidsPlay has been working with front line workers, community kitchens, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and food banks to provide for the community in this time of need.

They also hosted a mattress drive with Sleep Country and Mamas for Mamas Vancouver providing new mattresses to families and youth in need. In partnership with Maple Organics, they have distributed hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizers to the homeless and vulnerable communities. The KidsPlay team has helped package and distribute groceries through Khalsa Aid Canada’s initiatives. They are thankful to all who are serving in this time of need.

Shenan Charania, a member of the KidsPlay Foundation’s Education team says, “Thank you (KidsPlay Foundation) for providing the platform and leading at a time like this. It is so needed and such a great time to build a relationship with people that will remember it forever. I am happy to be a part of it.”

KidsPlay Foundation is now in works of creating a doc series that will showcase their Drug and Gang Education Team. This team comprises of members previously impacted by drug abuse and gang violence, who were successful in exiting that lifestyle, and now inspire others to do the same. They will share their stories and emphasize the importance of avoiding these pitfalls. T

hese stories are extremely powerful. As part of their responsibilities with the Drug and Gang Education Team, their duties comprise of presenting in schools and private industry. By sharing their stories, they have changed countless lives. These speakers have lost a lot and now choose to live good lives and create a healthy environment for themselves and their families. “I am the type of person that believes in redemption. I believe in salvation. I believe in giving somebody the opportunity.” Says Kal Dosanjh about the KidsPlay Education team. One of the speakers, Stanley Price, founded and ran one of the most violent gangs in the Downtown Eastside.

Dosanjh and Price had multiple confrontations while Dosanjh was doing his job and maintaining law and order in the Downtown Eastside, and Price was doing the opposite and causing havoc. Stan remembers Kal as someone who treated everyone equally and with respect – which later became one of the main precipitating factors of Stan reaching out to Kal after leaving behind the criminal lifestyle.

Since then, Kal and Stan have done multiple presentations in schools and in the community along with the rest of the Education Team. Stan and Kal were featured on the front cover of Georgia Straight, Vancouver. A quote from the article, “Ex-gangster Stan Price and cop Kal Dosanjh find common ground to help Metro Vancouver kids avoid a life of crime. “(Price) finds that he gets a far greater high from speaking to kids than he ever did doing drugs.” This is the difference KidsPlay is making in the lives of people.

The organization hopes to continue to serve and make our community a safe and inclusive environment for all. KidsPlay’s moto – It take a village to raise a child – we are that village.

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