Twenty year old Kiran Toor’s volunteering spirit started off quite early; throughout her high school she has helped with projects related to the needs of special children. She has an ambition for volunteering and helping organizations that work towards the betterment of society. At present, she is theFounder and Vice President of Operations Management at Kid’s Play – a non profit organization working towards keeping kids away from the lifestyle of drugs, gangs and violence.
Kid’s Play is the brainchild of Veteran officer, Kalwinder Dosanjh, and Olympian, Arjan Singh Bhullar. Dosanjh, who has worked in the downtown east side for a number of years, started a Youth Soccer program.
This idea was to bring forth disadvantaged youth from lower socio-economic backgrounds and help them adopt healthier lifestyles. Due to their exposure to criminal environments, they easily fall prey to drugs and gangs. This program has grown tremendously over the past few years and has had more than 1,500 youth participants.
The two men came together and decided to start up an organization which utilized education and sports to deter youth away from a criminal lifestyle. “Our organization aims to bring about a positive change in the community. As we say our children are our future, we focus on age groups from 14 to 17 years old, although, our volunteers are from 12 to 28 year olds,” says Toor.
Kids Play encourages participation in sports by engaging youth in activities that are healthy for body and mind. “The initiative of this program is to develop in our youth the skills that will assist them in becoming successful leaders and innovators in the future,” explains Toor.
The use of social media has helped the organization promote its events, and in turn, its cause. “Youth and almost all age groups are active on social media, so we promote our events primarily through social media and it has been an effective median in promoting our cause,” says the young Vice President.
Kid’s Play has organized a number of sporting events such as The Western Canada Age Class Championships, Anti-Racism Forum, Youth Gang Violence Forum, and BC Place Tournament. “We team up with local nonprofits and sports clubs to hold these events. A hockey tournament with Panthers Hockey Club and a track and field meet with Universal Athletics Club are two events we held by teaming up with local sports clubs,” points out Toor, adding, “In the upcoming months, we have a cricket tournament, a basketball tournament, and a drug and gang conference planned.”
Toor helps organize events hosted by Kids Play. She enjoys being a part of this program as it works towards the improvement of society by preventing children and youth from getting involved with drugs and gangs, and by keeping a positive trend of motivation through sports.
Toor believes that identity issues faced by children of immigrant families are deep rooted and are oftentimes the cause of their involvement in gang lifestyles. She explains, “In the process of securing the amenities and financial freedom for their children, parents were working hard, and in many cases, children were left neglected without proper parental supervision. These youth, who were seeking acceptance and identification, sought associations in gang environments.”
She also feels that finding shortcuts to success is another factor that encourages youngsters to fall into this trap. “The Big Mac-Coca Cola generation seek instantaneous stratification and overnight results. In other words, the quick and easy lure of drug money is overwhelming.”
Beyond Kids Play, Toor has also visited India and has been interested in educational projects there. She helps with the Akal Society and is also involved in the starting up of the Guru Kashi University in Punjab.
She plans to complete her undergraduate degree at Simon Frazer University and attend law school later to establish a career in corporate law. “Alongside attending law school, I wish to represent South East Asian women by working at a law enforcement agency,” she adds.