Vancouver was the first city to host HEROS, a program using the game of ice hockey to help teach self–esteem and life skills for at–risk youth.
Created in 2000 by a non–profit, privately-funded organization, the program is located in the city's Downtown Eastside. It's a neighbourhood noted for being one of the poorest and most crime–ridden districts in Canada.
Many of these children come from single–parent, aboriginal or new immigrant families. They struggle to survive, while living well below the poverty line.
Children growing up in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside may walk past crack houses, along sidewalks littered with syringes and condoms, and witness behaviours no child should have to. These kids cross the road to face yet another barrage of street–corner bullying from competing gangs – all before starting their school day.
It takes a lot of effort and courage to walk on the right side of the street in the Downtown Eastside. That's where HEROS comes in – offering kids a fun, supportive, educational program that helps them make the right choices in life.
The HEROS hockey program has been a huge success in our community. Our local elementary schools have benefitted from the program. It is easy to identify those students who are previous HEROS players. Now it's time to fill a void and offer the program to our junior high students. The HEROS program is a perfect fit. Our students are excited and engaged, and we are looking forward to a successful year.
Dennis Mogg, Vice Principal, St. John's High School