The first year working with the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) has been a win for Surrey Schools. After wrapping up a successful season, students, coaches, volunteers and families have nothing but praise for the program.
Thirty-six Surrey School District students were selected to participate in the after-school program. Our team of co-ed students came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from Grades 5 to 7. Each student's hockey journey began with the opportunity to go to Sport Chek, where they received brand new hockey gear.
The HEROS kids practiced hard at North Surrey Arena from October to March. Throughout the sessions, each players' growth was apparent. Every Monday, they not only practiced hockey, but also demonstrated their understanding of the "4 HERO behaviours": Listening, Respect, Discipline and Having Fun.
"These values have deeply connected our students to the program and it is evident they carry the pride of being a HERO everywhere they go," said Kaitlin Rai, program facilitator.
The coaches work hard to emphasize what it means to be a HERO on and off the ice, how to be a leader in school, at sports and in their personal lives.
The first day the students set foot on the ice, many of them were slipping, falling and trying their best not to give up. For some, this was their first opportunity to put on skates. Since then, they have all come such a long way. By the end, they improved their skills, worked as a team and supported one another. When two students received awards at the end of the season, every single player on the team was cheering, patted them on the back, and chanted their name. With a group of 10-12 year olds, you might imagine that you would see a few sad faces among kids who thought they might have won the HEROS award, but there was nothing like that in Surrey this year. A sense of community developed.
After practices, families were encouraged and welcomed to take part in a pizza dinner for all of the families. It was an opportunity for staff, coaches and families to break bread together and celebrate the kids' hard work.
"The pizza after the program has a very noticeable impact; the families know all the volunteers and interact with them in such a great way," said Kevin Hodgson, Director of Operations for HEROS. "We seem to have captured lightning in a bottle here."
The HEROS players built a strong culture in a positive sports environment and began to develop strong life-skills such as persistence, commitment and sportsmanship. Surrey Schools looks forward to continuing with the HEROS program, as the organization will follow this group of students and continue to support them into high school, and for some, even into post-secondary school.
~ by Kaitlin Rai