"If you really believe in something," says Jordan Harding with a smile, "it's a lot easier to do what you want to do." The outgoing 23-year old Queen's graduate student speaks from experience. That's because since 2005, Harding has been channeling his free time and energy into Jumpstart Madness (http://www.ctjumpstart.com), the student-run arm of an ambitious charity that helps kids in financial need participate in organized sport and recreation. Since its inception, the Canadian Tire Jumpstart charity has helped more than 215,000 children.
Now a student in the Master's of Industrial Relations program, Harding has brought Jumpstart Madness to Queen's. This year's fundraising events have included a Bedouin Sounclash concert (held at the Alehouse in March) which raised an impressive $6400 for the charity, and will culminate in a ball hockey tournament for kids which will take place at the K-Rock Centre on May 16, 2010. The event will include an appearance by Jayna Hefford, assistant captain of the women's olympic hockey team (and a Kingston-native).
Harding's interest in the Canadian Tire charity was sparked while a company employee. In his second year as an undergraduate business student at Brock University, Harding decided to spearhead a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the cause on campus. It raised $500 for the charity and led to the creation of Brock Madness -- which morphed into Jumpstart Madness as the program's breadth and scope increased.
Jumpstart Madness now involves students from universities in Ontario and Quebec, all working towards the common goal of "giving kids a sporting chance." With events that include everything from golf tournaments to gala events, the charity is also a way for students to give back to their communities and develop their leadership skills, while working together as a team.
Since arriving at Queen's in September 2009, Harding's enthusiasm for the Jumpstart Madness charity has spread. He has enlisted a team of 15 students from the Master's of Industrial Relations program and 10 from the undergraduate commerce program who have been busily organizing this year's events. Harding hopes that Queen's will stay involved in the charity next year, even after he graduates.
A former baseball player and competitive rower, Harding has found a way to meld his passion for both sports and business in Jumpstart Madness. "Sports is about competition," he says with a smile, "and I'm pretty competitive." He brings that same drive to making things better for his community. "It's a game in a sense," Harding says of the fundraising initiative, "it's about asking what we can do, and how good our team can be, and what amazing things we are going to accomplish."
At the end of the day, though, Harding says he just wants to see more kids involved in physical activity. "Sports teaches you leadership skills and respect, and it keeps kids off the street," he says enthusiastically. "And it's been proven that kids do better in school if they get exercise. I think (sport) is something that can really change society around you."