Members of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Pacific FC were on hand to help out in the eighth annual Hope and Health camp in Nanaimo on Monday.

Hope and Health uses the sport of soccer to help develop life and leadership skills for Indigenous children and youth.

“They learn here that we believe in them and they start to believe in themselves,” says Deana Gill, a Hope and Health co-founder. “That’s what makes it so special.”

Over 400 kids got a chance to play alongside soccer pros from the Whitecaps, who have been involved in the event since the very beginning.

“I was taught through my parents that giving back to the community is the best thing you can do,” said Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski.

The Whitecaps also had help from Vancouver Island’s new professional soccer team, Pacific FC.

“Hopefully we are actually changing lives here today,” said Pacific FC defender Marcel de Jong.

Indigenous youth from around the island and across Canada attended this year's event.

Hope and Health