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Lethbridge families urged to fit sports into a tight budget: ‘We want kids to be healthy’ – Lethbridge

Family budgets are feeling the strain of inflation and registering kids in sports has become a daunting cost for many — but some sports workers say signing kids up for a local team is well worth the investment.

“Recreation and play is very, very important for kids’ growth and development,” said Sunni Belle, general manager at Recreation Excellence Lethbridge.

“Socializing, judging, learning how to solve problems – (kids learn) all of these things and there’s so much more.”

According to Belle, user numbers at city pools have yet to return to pre-pandemic numbers and she believes the economy is likely to play a role.

“There could be some financial barriers they need to overcome. The other thing may be that people just don’t know what’s out there,” she said.

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Hockey is one sport that can cost thousands of dollars, and, in theory, should be a harder hit with a lack of registration.

But Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association general manager Keith Hitchcock said that’s not the case.

“This has been the largest registrants we’ve had since 2019 — we’re right about at the same number,” he said.

A big part of that, Hitchcock added, is the range of programs that can suit almost any budget.

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“Our program runs anywhere from $400 a child to $8,000 a child,” he explained. And it’s the more affordable programs in which they’re seeing an increase of registration.

There are also programs available to help lower costs for families. Genny Hunter-Barr, the board chair of KidSport Lethbridge & Taber, said it can be nerve-wracking to seek financial help.

“A lot of people are proud and it’s really hard for them to ask. But I think it’s important for their kids.”

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Hunter-Barr is anticipating applications in 2023 to be higher than normal.

“A lot of people have had a tough three years, and, yeah, we do want our kids in sports. We want kids to be healthy.

“We want kids to be kids.”

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