A B.C.-based group is helping out Inuvik in a big way.

The Inuvik Youth Centre is set to receive a donation of soccer equipment, leadership seminars and sports camps from Sports for Smiles, a non-profit located in Delta, B.C.

Sports for Smiles members Janeva Shahi, left, Kanaka Shahi and Deva Shahi pack up their donation to the Inuvik Youth Centre.
Photo courtesy of Janeva Shahi

Janeva Shahi, Sports for Smiles founder, said the equipment donation, which came from a soccer club in Delta, is on its way. The donation includes jerseys, cones, soccer balls, a first aid kit and a ball pump.

Shahi said she and her team will be delivering leadership seminars to youth at the Inuvik Youth Centre this fall over Skype, and will be running sports camps at the centre next summer.

“I’ve always been curious about the North, and so I went to Yellowknife about five years ago … it was cool to see how different it was from here, but it made me realize that there aren’t as many opportunities for youth to participate in sports in the North as there are in the south,” she said. “I don’t think there are as many opportunities for kids in the North to get sports scholarships and play on sports teams, so I thought it would be a good idea to work with the youth centre to provide more opportunities.”

Sixteen-year-old Shahi started Sports for Smiles in November 2016. The non-profit organization is run by approximately six youth, all but one of whom are in high school.

She said the non-profit was originally dedicated to providing sports camps to youth around Canada, but has since focused on providing Northern youth with sports and leadership opportunities.

“We wanted to start with Inuvik because it is a fairly large town, but it is fairly isolated and far,” she said. “I play rep soccer myself, and I wanted to help a community that maybe doesn’t have as many opportunities and resources that I have access to, being from the lower mainland of B.C.”

Shahi said when it comes to helping others, she thinks it is important to start where you are.

“We hear a lot about international conflicts … but there are problems here as well,” she said. “I thought it was better as Canadians to start here, to help youth in our own country.”

The Inuvik Youth Centre did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

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