PRO Kids Saint John celebrates 20 years and more than 20,000 helped

·4 min read
Tanya Logan with her four children at a cheerleading event. From left, Marissa, Bailey, Tanya, Becca and Zac.  (Submitted by Tanya Logan - image credit)
Tanya Logan with her four children at a cheerleading event. From left, Marissa, Bailey, Tanya, Becca and Zac. (Submitted by Tanya Logan - image credit)

As a single mom, Tanya Logan said she would have never been able to afford to put four kids into any kind of extracurricular activities without the help of PRO Kids Saint John.

She said she is "beyond grateful" to the organization that is now celebrating its 20th year of helping families pay for activities for their children.

"They gave my kids an opportunity that I would never have been able to give them," said Logan.

"And it's taught them so much. It's shaped them into the young women and man they are today."

All four of her children were involved in cheerleading. Her oldest daughter, Becca, who's now 22, started when she was six or seven and eventually convinced everyone else in the family to join, including older brother, Zachary.

At first, the program was free at the Carleton Community Centre, but all four children eventually went on to compete at higher levels, and that cost money.

Submitted by Tanya Logan
Submitted by Tanya Logan

Without help from PRO Kids, Logan said there was no way she would have been able to afford to have four children competing at such a high level.

And without cheerleading, Logan said her children would have missed out on valuable life lessons and character development.

"They learned responsibility, they learned commitment … It's been the most amazing experience for my kids. And then, like I say, if it wasn't for PRO Kids, I don't think I would have been able to keep all four of them in a sport that they truly, truly love."

Logan also believes the spirit of the program helped develop in them a desire to give back.

Becca and Bailey, 19, both continue to coach in the sport they love.

Submitted by Tanya Logan
Submitted by Tanya Logan

Over the last 20 years, PRO Kids Saint John has helped more than 20,000 young people in the greater Saint John area get involved in sports and other activities, explained Pat Steeves, the group's advisory committee chair.

He said the group can help pay for everything from registration fees to equipment and travel costs.

Participants must fill out an application outlining their financial need, and PRO Kids will determine how much of the costs to cover.

Steeves said the vast majority of children are involved in traditional sports like hockey and soccer.

"So obviously, sports are a big one for us. That's kind of where the program started. And then it started to spin off into .. arts and culture."

Not just sports

Activities include, but certainly aren't limited to, dance, cheerleading, martial arts, music and theatre.

Steeves said they even received a request from a child who wanted to learn how to cook.

"If a youth comes in with an ask, we will do everything we can to accommodate that."

Steeves understands how difficult it is for parents to say no to a child who wants to get involved in a sport or leisure activity — and he also understands that it's often difficult for parents to ask for financial help.

He said the application process is discreet, as is the communications with the organization the child wants to join.

Steeves said sports have given him a lot personally and professionally and PRO Kids wants to provide that to all children who want to get involved in a recreational activity, especially those who come from a disadvantaged background.

"We're also just allowing these individuals to have a level playing field when it comes to life," said Steeves.

Submitted by Jordan Tracey
Submitted by Jordan Tracey

Jordan Tracey is so grateful for the opportunities PRO Kids provided him as a young hockey player that he joined the group's board a few years ago.

Growing up in Millidgeville with a single mother and two siblings involved in sports, his family was on a tight budget, especially when he started playing AAA hockey.

While he didn't know it at the time, his mother reached out to PRO Kids for help with the costs.

Like Steeves, Tracey believes the program helps level the playing field for children who may be economically disadvantaged.

"It enables them to experience more than the life that they know," he said.

Submitted by Jordan Tracey
Submitted by Jordan Tracey

Tracey said sports have taught him a lot — everything from commitment to being a team player and how to react to wins and losses.

"If I didn't have PRO Kids in my life, maybe I wouldn't have learned those lessons, or I would have found a harder way to learn them."

Tracey said his life likely would have been set on a different trajectory without sports. He said it also led to many life-long friendships.

"Half the guys that will be at my wedding will be guys I met through sports," he said.

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