A new selection of summer sports equipment for children and youth in Oslo has opened at Bislett Stadium, operated by the humanitarian group Kirkens Bymisjon. The goal is to provide recreational opportunities to young city residents, with no stigma attached to their economic status.
New figures show that nearly 80,000 children in Norway live in relatively low income families, and the state auditor harshly criticized local governments this week for failing to address their needs. Kirkens Bymisjon has operated a sports equipment lending service since 2010, but mostly geared at winter sports. Now the emphasis is on summer sports, with everything from skateboards to hiking boots, rollerskates, tennis rackets, snorkels and lifevests on offer, free of charge.
Many users are from minority families, according to Kirkens Bymisjon, but the offer is open to everyone under 18. “Many of those who have accepted our offer have said they never would have been able to take part in sports if it cost money,” Maren Palm of Kirkens Bymisjon told newspaper Aftenposten.
“It’s important that the service, called Skattkammeret (Treasure chest), isn’t stamped as being for poor children,” she added. “We want it to be cool to use it.” The service is open every Monday and Wednesday from 6pm-8pm and equipment can be borrowed for up to a week.