At HEROS we know that some times it can be the smallest thing that can make a big difference. Alana came to the HEROS program in grade 6 with her self esteem and confidence low, her grades declining and her interest in school almost non-existant. Her father was a single parent with a disability, her brother was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and with everything going on in her home life, she felt unsure of herself and her place in the world.
Enter the HEROS program. She had never played hockey, let alone laced up a pair of skates, and was hesitant to participate. She was slow to trust other adults and when she did get on the ice, she fell often. The struggles strengthened her belief that she didn’t belong and she began to feel discouraged but one day a volunteer, made a point of giving Alana a fist bump. That one small gesture changed everything. Alana saw another way of looking at things – that perhaps the voluteers felt differently about her than she perceived – she realized that maybe she did fit in after all.
Alana stuck with it and even though she decribes her hockey skills as “not very good” in the beginning, she managed to score a highlight worthy, theatrical goal in a session. In that moment she realized, “If I could do that then I absolutely had chances of improving, which is why I actually started applying myself in the program. And just that overarching confidence over the rest of it too – I realized that if I actually started applying myself in things, they would improve. It helped my school situation.”
This sense of belonging allowed Alana to believe in herself more and her newfound confidence allowed her to make positive impacts on the rest of her life. From communication skills she learned in HEROS she was able to establish a positive healthy relationship with her brother. Having found her voice, she began engaging with her teachers and applying herself to her studies. Now a high school senior, Alana is applying the approach from the HEROS program towards her education. Today, she’s heavily involved in school activities and extracurriculars and is looking toward university, “I think I may go into sciences and minor in the arts because I joined band and theatre and quite enjoy myself with it.” She doesn’t aim small with her goals, looking to take on some of the world’s biggest problems from ocean pollution and world hunger to climate change. What is the drive behind these ambitious goals? It’s her motivation to help others and to “to help everybody find a balance.”
Alana exhibits a wisdom beyond her years and understands the wide-ranging impacts of the HEROS program, she says “The way that I see some of these kids come out of their shells and participate in their community and in clubs and things…then the quality of life raises as well. People can increase the quality of their community through recreational sports by helping these kids to understand, essentially the behaviors of listening, respect, discipline and just having fun with it.”
Alana has proven that tragedy and challenge doesn’t define her. It’s her commitment to growing, her confidence and hard work to achieve her dreams that does.