Kids should learn. Kids should play. Kids should have the opportunity to learn and play. The foundation
“Kids Play” is determined to use its resources to provide children with exactly this. In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Kids Play Youth Foundation, along with Asian Pulse and Langara College hosted held their Second Annual Anti Racism Forum on March 20. Over 300 youth signed up to be a part of the event.
Without doing anything except sign up to attend the event, each student at the event had the opportunity to earn one of four $500 scholarships for any school of their choosing. The event also included speeches made by some of the most inspirational members of our community. Sargent Baltej Dhillon shared his story about the victory he achieved 26 years ago which led him to become Canada’s first turbaned Sikh police officer. He gained the right to serve and protect while wearing his turban. SFU professor, Sam Thiara, discussed ways of developing intercultural harmony.
Soleman Hashmi and Atish Ram shared their views and stories on the topic and later answered questions regarding incorporation of awareness of discrimination in a classroom setting. Along wth the $2000 worth of scholarships, students also received with prizes from BC Cultural Bhangra Academy and Flex Fitness. More of these forums are in works to be brought to the community in the upcoming months.
Kids Play is a non-profit organization working toward keeping kids away from negative life style choices such as drugs, gangs and violence. One of the major ways Kids Play helps steer youth on a positive path is through encouraging them to participate in organized sports provided by Kids Play. The organization holds sports tournaments, conferences and other projects for youth. President Kids Play and law enforcement agent, Kal Dosanjh deems sports and education as “two sides of the same coin.” He explains that the traits you acquire from playing sports (teamwork, leadership, dedication, hard work ethic, etc) transfer over to other areas in life. When youth are around other youth who are all trying to better themselves by practising these traits, they begin to internalize them and express these traits in all aspects of life including education. Kal also explains how youth often seek out avenues where they can “fit in” and create an identity with. By allowing them to do this through their sports team, they turn to their teammates and the sport of their choice to create an identity for themselves, rather than turning to other facets such as gangs in order to feel accepted. It is through this understanding that Kal Dosanjh and the entire Kids Play team stress the importance of allowing children to participate in sports in order to guide them on a more positive path in life.
“The rate of violent crime among young people has increased by 30%” Dosanjh states. The law enforcement officer continues by adding “There needs to be a balanced approach to dealing with young offenders. Some may need to be incarcerated, but many more need to be engaged in community programs that builds character, increases self-esteem and develop life skills. Social development programs that provide youth with positive peer interactions, opportunities to develop problem solving skills and a support adult help reduce the risk factors associated with youth crime.”
The Annual Anti Racism Forum is one of many initiatives Kids Play and other organizations are running to help encourage youth to make better choices with their future. It is such initiatives that are setting youth up to create positive and fulfilling lives for themselves.