A majority of youth in Canada grow up in a system designed to promote social interaction, for example attending school where we are exposed to peers on a daily basis. Teila took a different path to her education having been homeschooled since an early age. While the best decision for Teila was to pursue her education from home it presented some social obstacles which is where HEROS played an important part in her life.
A bit shy and reserved, Teila started off at HEROS not knowing how to skate. Telia explained her first few sessions at HEROS were “nerve-racking.” Today Teila is making strides in HEROS but also in a local women’s hockey league. Teila looks forward to heading to the rink because, “when I go in, I know I don’t have to worry at all because I know everyone and I know they’re all there to support me.” Debbie, Teila’s Mom, noticed that once she started HEROS her daughter began coming out of her shell, “She’s better with people – as she’s gotten to know people, she’s gotten to be more outgoing, her teamwork is better.”
Debbie praises the mentors, volunteers and coaches at the program as a big reason why Teila, and now her younger daughter Keanna, have flourished at HEROS. “They really encourage the players…the improvement they made, the confidence they’ve built and just the team playing. They would say, ‘you could fall in all this equipment and it won’t hurt.’” It’s those kinds of encouraging words and knowing it’s a safe place that makes HEROS special to Teila. “When you go there, you know you’re not going to be judged. You’re not going to have to worry about what anyone else thinks of you because you’re just there to learn and hangout with your peers and have a good time.” The safe and welcoming environment that HEROS strives to create for each player makes it, “such a community, it’s a family almost.”
While she loves hitting the ice to play or practice, some of her favourite moments are actually helping out the younger HEROS. It’s become a full-circle moment – starting off not knowing how to skate and climbing the boards to prop herself up, to now helping others learn to skate. “Every time I can get there a little bit early and get on the ice with the younger kids is always pretty special, to see how much they’re growing and how excited they get when they improve.”