“I’m a HERO, I’m a hockey player, I belong.”
This is the Super HEROS mantra, the newest program from HEROS Hockey located in Calgary. Super HEROS provides a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment to youth with cognitive challenges, including Autism and Down Syndrome.Starting in October 2018, the 24-week program will include introductory hockey skills training and workshops, along with helping kids establish a sense of belonging. These young people often face a range of challenges including isolation, disconnection from their peers, and not feeling fully integrated in the community.
Immense support from the local community has made this program possible. With generous donations from the Sutter Fund, Dr. Walinder Dohl and the Flames Foundation, the program can run at no cost to the participants. Additional collaborative support comes from Ups and Downs Calgary, Autism Aspergers Friendship Society, PREP, and Hockey Calgary.
The founders of HEROS Hockey truly believe that hockey isfor everyone and creating a program that enables the most positive and successful experience for the kids is the objective. Kevin Hodgson, executive director of HEROS, explained, “These kids are going to wear the same HEROS jersey as all of our HEROS across Canada, so that they’re going to know that they belong to something bigger, that they have teammates all over the place…They’ll all be HEROS, HEROS together.”
The program launched in August 2018 during the second Annual HEROS Fishing Day hosted by Fan 960 Radio and Alberta Marine. “This has been a very long quest for our community, and I still have to pinch myself that it is actually happening. This is going to be something that is going to change many lives for a long time,” said Al Stewart who is both a parent of a participant and Super HEROS volunteer.
Reactions to the launch have been extraordinarily positive. When asked about the program’s debut, Kevin Hodgson explained, “As expected, interest from potential players and volunteers has been strong and we are incredibly excited to bring everyone together in the weeks leading up to our on ice debut.”
For more information about Super HEROS, please contact Kevin Hodgson.