Softball Yukon is one of 15 organizations set to receive more than $1.5 million in funding from Jays Care Foundation to “benefit Canadian children and youth through its Field of Dreams program,” according to a statement from the foundation.
The foundation, which creates programs to overcome barriers to fair and accessible sport and recreation opportunities, is the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays.
A total of 15 organizations across eight provinces as well as the Yukon will receive the funding to build, enhance or refurbish community baseball diamonds “where children and youth will develop important life skills and learn from positive role models”, the statement says.
Softball Yukon executive director Sarah Walz said the funds will be used to build a covered hitting/training facility at the Pepsi Softball Centre.
The construction is not anticipated to have any impact on the regular programming at the fields.
“Once built, it will give us the opportunity to expand programming and will have a very big impact on our goals of working towards fielding teams at future Canada Games,” she said.
The Field of Dreams is the foundation’s granting program for infrastructure dedicated to youth life-skill development and physical activity.
In the past 10 years, Jays Care says it has invested more than $15 million in about 163 spaces across the country.
Joey Quintanilha, the foundation’s manager of marketing and communications, said during the Field of Dreams application cycle, organizations and communities can apply for a grant on the Jays Care website.
“This includes questions about why the funding is needed, how much the community is requesting, what the funding will be used for and how many kids in the community will be impacted by the diamond,” he said.
The softball project in Whitehorse will receive $150,000 that will be used for constructing a covered training area to be used during spring, summer and fall, turfed foundation and steel shelter construction. A total of 522 children between the ages of five and 18 are expected to benefit from the project.
The timeline for the completion of the project is five months with September as the estimated completion date.
“Jays Care is honoured to partner with 15 exceptional organizations throughout Canada that are dedicated to creating safe, inclusive and accessible spaces for young people in their communities,” said Robert Witchel, Jays Care Foundation executive director.
The investment, he said, will provide youth the opportunity to build lasting relationships and a sense of belonging while gaining valuable skills as they “grow through the power of sports and play.”
“From Newfoundland and Labrador in the east, to the Yukon in the north, we are excited to continue investing in our Blue Jays community,” he said.
Witchel thanked organizations who submitted proposals and congratulated those who have been selected.
“We look forward to seeing the positive impact of these projects for years to come,” he added.
The statement commended partners and donors who have supported their intiatives such as Rogers Communications through annual donations for youth programs like Challenger Baseball, Rookie League and Girls At Bat.
Other recipients of the funds include the Louis Bull Tribe in Maskwacis, Alberta; the District of Peachland in British Columbia; the Dakota Plains School and McCreary Minor Baseball both in Manitoba; the Elsipogtog Sports & Recreation, Harvey Minor Baseball Association, Village of Plaster Rock and Sackville Minor Baseball Association in New Brunswick; Gander Minor Baseball in Newfoundland and Labrador; BGC Greater Halifax Clubs in Nova Scotia; Kingston Thunder Baseball Association, Lappe & Area Local Services Board and Ryerson Community School in Ontario; and Association de Baseball Mineur de Lac-Mégantic in Quebec.
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