By Kelly Oehlerking, KidSport Alberta
(ANNews) – The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation has donated $2 Million to KidSport to help grow the game of hockey in Oil Country. The donation will fund KidSport’s Hockey Assist Program, through which qualified kids in Alberta from Red Deer north will have their full registration fees covered and access to no-cost equipment.
“Imagine hearing your friends at school talk about their hockey game over the weekend, knowing you will never have the chance to play in one,” said Corey Smith, EOCF Board Chair.
“The reality is that hockey is expensive, and for many families it just isn’t possible. That’s why we are excited to partner with KidSport to help alleviate the cost of playing hockey for kids from underrepresented groups. With this donation, we will ensure that Canada’s game is within reach for all kids across Oil Country.”
The average cost of a minor hockey registration fee across Oil Country is $750 per season. Currently 25 localized KidSport chapters in Oil Country raise funds in their community to assist with $250 per season. Only being able to provide $250 to low-income families leaves a gap which prevents many kids from participating in hockey. With this donation, KidSport is proceeding with the Hockey Assist Program for registrations for the 2022-23 minor hockey season.
“It is important to recognize the leadership that the EOCF is demonstrating by investing back into the hockey community to grow the game of hockey in Oil Country. It is unfortunate that the game has become financially inaccessible to many families. This strategic partnership with KidSport will ensure that low income, Indigenous, and new Canadian kids are able to play,” said Greg Ingalls, Executive Director at KidSport Alberta.
“Our 25 local KidSport chapters are collaborating with local minor hockey associations to grow the game in their community. Our partners at Sport Central and Rosenau Transport are going to ensure that we are able to get hockey equipment to those kids who need it as well. The Indigenous Sport Council of Alberta is going to help us get more Indigenous kids playing and Hockey Alberta has played a huge role in connecting everyone in the hockey community. This project is truly a team effort to get more kids playing hockey in Oil Country.”
“My kids love being a part of something special,” said a current KidSport parent about the program. “My son loves scoring goals. My oldest daughter has struggled with depression and anxiety and when she’s on the ice she feels like a different person with no stress. When they play, it helps them learn to contribute at home. They know that being a good member of society and in the home is the key to being a great team player.”
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) is a proud supporter of Oil Country and has been contributing to our community’s success since 2001. With a focus on programs aimed at those most vulnerable in our community, especially in Edmonton’s downtown, and youth hockey programming with a goal to increase participation of under-represented groups in our community, the Oilers Foundation is dedicated to building strong, vibrant and safe communities by demonstrating philanthropic leadership and continues its deep legacy of giving back. Thanks to the generosity of our valued hockey fans, Oilers players and alumni, the EOCF Board of Directors, Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) employees and the Katz Family, the Foundation has contributed over $66 million to charitable organizations and minor hockey programs across Oil Country since 2001.
KidSport’s core business as a charity is subsidizing sport registration fees for kids from low-income families. We believe that playing hockey promotes the development of children’s social, mental, and physical well-being. We fundamentally believe that all kids who want to play hockey should be able to regardless of their family’s socioeconomic status. We have 25 KidSport chapters throughout Oil Country that provide the infrastructure to get funds to those families who need it to get their kids playing hockey. In addition, the Provincial KidSport Fund covers those communities where we do not have a chapter and the Indigenous KidSport Fund supports kids in Indigenous communities. A simple one-page application process gets things started. Once approved KidSport sends a cheque to the minor hockey association on the child’s behalf for the registration fee. In our last normal year – 2019 – our 38 chapters across Alberta assisted 13,677 kids into 40 sports by paying $3.2 million in registration fees.
Families in Oil Country can go to kidsportHAP.ca to learn more and register.