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Tougher financial times, influx of newcomers lead to increased demand for Edmonton sports assistance

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There's been a sharp increase in the number of Edmonton families needing help to get their children into sports programs.

From financial assistance to donated equipment, the requests have spiked. Edmonton's KidSport, the local arm of a national non-profit organization that helps families in need with kids' sports registration fees, says demand for their services has increased 52 per cent compared to this time last year.

Edmonton isn't alone in seeing a jump in such need — the KidSport Canada organization in Calgary has seen a 45 per cent increase this year.

Part of the reason why there's an increase this year is because of tougher economic times, said Sadie Reid, operations manager of KidSport in Edmonton.

"The cost of living is increasing rapidly, and as a result, families are having a harder time with their day-to-day finances, so to have your kids in sport on top of that, it's quite difficult," Reid told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

"Sport registration fees are increasing as a result. Because of that, we're seeing more families in need and increasing numbers, more than we've seen in the past."

Another reason there's a higher demand for help from KidSport is an influx of newcomers to the city, such as Mohammad Turkmani, an elite-level soccer player and Afghan refugee who says he wouldn't be playing without assistance.

"I didn’t know what to do," Turkmani said. "Like, we came from a whole different world on the other side of the world."

Edmonton's Sport Central — an agency that has been gathering donated and used sports equipment for people in need for more than three decades — says the number of new Canadians requesting gear this season is unprecedented.

"We’ve seen a dramatic increase ... about a 30 per cent increase with newcomers," said Janna Tominuk, executive director of Sport Central, adding if the organization can help ease the burden of finding equipment for people already dealing with a new way of life, it counts as a big win.

"With global events, that’s what we’re seeing, I just think Edmonton is a great place to land," said Tominuk. "We’re happy to be here to serve them, and help the kids and the families." 

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