A detective with the Vancouver Police Department, Kal Dosanjh has seen crime up close and personal. Seeing an increased number of youth and children involved in gangs, violence, and drug-related crimes made him realize that society required a program at a grass roots level with a positive influence for youth to help make them feel worthy, build their confidence, and to build their cognitive skills so that they can one day be a positive contributing member in their communities.
Kiran, a full-time university student, met Kal and explains that instantly they were on the same page, sharing ideas and their passion for youth. Together, they built KidsPlay Foundation from the ground up, working shoulder to shoulder. Till date, they have had 60,000 children go through their sports programs and tournaments for free. Youth like Jessica Sherman, who lost her first cousin to a drug war in Abbotsford, are often found displaced with lack of family support to help them deal with trauma. She came across KidsPlay wanting to find direction and now is a mentor to other Abbotsford kids.
Together, Kal and Kiran oversee 500 volunteers, 80 leader-volunteers like Jessica Sherman, and build programs with 15 core volunteers. Both of these community leaders have undoubtedly volunteered countless hours to ensure that they provide a viable alternative for children to spend their spare time on, and that the youth of today become leaders of tomorrow.
Birthplace: Surrey, BC
Highest Level of Education: Kal completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology at Simon Fraser University; Kiran is completing her Bachelor of Education at Simon Fraser University and hopes to pursue her master’s degree shortly thereafter.
Recommended Reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Reading is a form of meditation, and this book was a beautiful reminder to look at the signs and follow your heart.
Favourite Past-time: Kal and Kiran both look at one another and answer in unison, “to build more programs,” followed by gales of laughter. We can’t stress enough how important KidsPlay is to us and the more programs we build, the more kids we can give meaningful life experiences that will help make them future role models.
Toughest Professional Decision:
Funding is our biggest hurdle. KidsPlay programs are all offered for free, and the more funding we have the more youth we can serve. We have no employees, and neither of us gets paid – all of our funding goes towards venue rentals, sports equipment and expenses related to producing each tournament or program. Surprisingly, government funding is minimal, and we are at the mercy of our generous sponsors and donors.
What does the future look like?
We met with United Nations and we are going on a humanitarian mission with Greater Vancouver Bangladesh Cultural Association later this year. We are excited to expand across Canada, we have chapters opening up soon in Victoria, Toronto, and Edmonton. And of course, to hear more stories like Jessica Sherman’s so that we know that we are making a difference in the lives of youth.