Photo: 2021 Community Awardee, Kal Dosanjh
Kal Dosanjh’s vision for youth is reshaping a community while building and lifting up a generation.
With over twenty years of law enforcement experience, Detective Kal Dosanjh spent considerable time serving Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. During patrol duties Kal was exposed to the challenging realities faced by the community. “I saw a steady stream of kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds not having the same opportunities as others and getting into drug and gang life.” He realized that society was quick to point a finger at these youth and focus on their shortcomings, but very few were doing anything to provide these kids with opportunities to succeed. “That’s when I had enough and from that came the idea for creating a program that focused on providing youth with constructive outlets.”
Kal launched KidsPlay Foundation to give kids the opportunity to become involved in sports and other recreational and volunteer activities – helping them build a sense of belonging, self-worth and providing them with mentors who inspire them to see viable choices other than the dangerous life of drugs and gangs.
The Foundation offers free high quality educational initiatives, sports programming, comprehensive after school mentorship and volunteer opportunities. The organization has been involved in many local initiatives and forums including partnering with the city of Surrey’s Adopt-A-Street program, tree-planting, street -clean up, supporting those affected by the recent extreme cold weather, sending supplies to those hardest hit by BC’s floods, organizing toy drives for local charities and more.
Under his guidance and leadership as Chief Executive Officer of KidsPlay Foundation, the organization now has over 500 volunteers and approximately 70,000 youth who have participated in KidsPlay programs since its inception in 2015. And it’s expanded with growing numbers of participants in Calgary, Toronto, and even in Punjab, India.
As a result of his efforts, Kal has been the recipient of multiple community leadership awards, including the Community Award in 2021.
Kal is quick to deflect the attention when it comes to commendation on his leadership success. “Leadership is not denotated by title. Leadership is inherent in someone’s action: giving resources, tools, amenities they need to help others succeed. You want others to be able to take charge. A good leader is a good follower and helps create other leaders.”
His goal for the Foundation is to help identify young individuals within the community with a passion to serve. “These youth are given ample opportunity and a stable platform to give back to the community through programs that cultivate their leaderships skills and enriches their character. These young leaders will be the crest of the wave which positively influences the next generation, and so forth, so that the community work continues in perpetuity.“
His proudest moment at KidsPlay? “Thirty of these kids becoming law enforcement officers. When they started at KidsPlay, they were just kids, I was proud to be part of their journey, and now they are role models themselves.”
Kal’s community service does not end there. He sees gaps in outreach to vulnerable youth. “Some are still drawn into drugs and gangs because of money and lifestyle, acceptance and identity.” He sees that more has to be done, especially in unifying the resources, skills and efforts of law enforcement, schools, and non-profits. “We need to help these kids from slipping through the cracks.” Kal also advocates for families working together to prevent youth from taking up a dangerous lifestyle. “These topics need to be addressed within families and between families. We fail to connect with other families that might be suffering. We should all step it up and support each other.”
To find out more about the work of the KidsPlay Foundation, go to kidsplayfoundation.com
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