Chilliwack girl steps up so kids can play – By Eric J. Welsh, HILLIWACK PROGRESS – October 20, 2009 –

Chilliwack girl steps up so kids can play – By Eric J. Welsh, HILLIWACK PROGRESS – October 20, 2009 –

An 11-year-old girl with a big heart and an ambitious plan is doing what she can to help underprivileged kids play sports.

One night, not too long ago, Ashley Chester was at home watching the news with her parents.

One segment featured a piece on recent government cuts to sports funding, cuts that have directly affected several local sports groups.

The piece hit home with Ashley.

Her younger brother, Keith (eight years old), plays hockey, and his registration fees went up between $50-60 this season.

Like most families, the Chesters have found a way to keep him in the sport he loves, but it was anything but easy.

The Chesters run Puss n Pooch Pet Services out of the Chapman Auction property in Chilliwack. But with business slow, money tight and Keith’s hockey in jeopardy, mom Victoria recently took up a second job at the Harrison Hotel.

As she watched the news piece with Ashley, they talked about how some families can’t afford to keep their kids in sports, no matter how far they stretch their budgets.

“I just don’t think that’s fair,” Ashley said. “A lot of kids dream of growing up and playing big-league sports. But without funding, a lot of them can’t live their dream. It just really upset me a lot, because I play sports too.”

For a girl her age, Ashley has a remarkable grasp on the benefits of athletic endeavours.

She talked enthusiastically about exercise, and the chance to keep youths active and away from less desirable activities.

She is convinced her own participation in sports has made her a better student in the classroom.

So the thought of any children losing the chance to play was unacceptable.

Determined to do something about it, Ashley asked her uncle Paul for ideas…

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