CALGARY - A new hockey program launches this week in Calgary that provides a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment to youth with cognitive challenges, including Autism and Down Syndrome.
Super HEROS is the newest program offered by Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) Hockey, a pilot project providing the opportunity to play hockey for a group of young people who often face a range of challenges including isolation, disconnection from their peers, and not feeling fully integrated in the community.
Super HEROS was recently named a recipient of $5,000 from the Hockey Alberta Foundation’s Every Kid Every Community (EKEC) Grant fund.
EKEC’s goal is to provide every child in Alberta the opportunity to play hockey, have fun and, in many cases, experience the sport for the first time. The funding will help cover ice rental costs.
“Super HEROS does exactly what EKEC is all about - giving kids a chance to play hockey who otherwise likely wouldn’t have that opportunity,” said Tim Leer, Executive Director of the Hockey Alberta Foundation.
The program features 21 boys and girls, ages 7-17 years, with cognitive challenges. Participants rotate through four or five stations, each with a different short duration/ low intensity skill development opportunity. The focus is on fundamentals such as skating and puck skills through fun activities.
In the EKEC application, it was noted “there is currently no place for this population of kids to play. There are many barriers; physical, emotional, social that make organized hockey of any kind unrealistic;. This does not mean that they are not passionate about hockey, or sports in general, it just means they are limited in that there isn’t anywhere they can take part. Super HEROS will provide them with a place to take part in a sport they love and have aspired to play.”
The Super HEROS program operates at the Max Bell Centre, and includes introductory hockey skills training and workshops, along with helping the young participants establish a sense of belonging. Equipment fitting occurs on Wednesday, October 10, with the program starting Sunday, October 14 and continuing until mid-March.