For many children and youth involved in the child welfare system, the opportunity to play sports or explore other interests they have is unattainable due to barriers like the lack of both a parental advocate and financial resources. But when young people in care do gain access to enriching activities, they have the opportunity to gain an identity and build their self-esteem. They have the chance to be kids and escape the stress of their daily lives.

Meet JAYLA*.

She and her siblings came into the care of the child welfare system and were placed with their grandparents when she was six years old due to severe neglect, abuse, exposure to family violence and substance abuse, and transiency.

As a result of what she’d faced in her childhood home, JAYLA had difficulty trusting people and experienced social discomfort and shyness. However, thanks to Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Stand Up for Kids Project, JAYLA was given an opportunity to play basketball and this opened up her world and improved her mental health.

When JAYLA joined the team, she was timid and unsure of herself, but her coach recognized just how coachable she was. She played hard and her team rallied around her, encouraging and supporting her efforts on the court. This had a ripple effect on her confidence, boosting it to the point where she was empowered to run for student council, something she never would have considered before basketball helped her to build her self-esteem and to flourish in social situations.

“Basketball helped me to escape from my problems, even if just for a moment.” – JAYLA

Basketball has meant the world to JAYLA and the confidence she gained from the opportunity to play has also boosted it in other areas of her life, like her schoolwork, at which she is excelling.

The Stand Up for Kids Project continues to break the barriers to a brighter future and create new possibilities for children and youth at risk of entering, growing up in, and transitioning out of the child welfare system. Learn more about the Stand Up for Kids Project here.

*Name and visual identity have been protected.

About The Author

The Children's Aid Foundation of Canada funds programs to help Canada's most vulnerable children and youth, those who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and neglect, overcome the obstacles in life that prevent them from reaching their full potential. We are committed to giving ongoing support to those who need it most.

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