Meet Kelly and Roy, the dynamic duo of the HEROS Sunshine Coast chapter. When it comes to hockey, they are at opposite ends of the spectrum: Kelly has been playing hockey for over 30 years, whereas Roy doesn’t skate, play hockey or even watch the game. Yet together they, bring their own strengths and experience to the program with one common goal: giving back to the community. Kelly is the program coordinator and Roy drives the kids from nine different schools to the rink and helps to maintain equipment and any issues on the ice.
Being involved and giving back to the community is extremely important to both Kelly and Roy. Kelly explains that, “Seeing the kids around town and seeing them working and thriving as productive and happy citizens in the community,” helps remind them why they are so committed to HEROS. Kelly and Roy often bump in to current or former HEROS kids in their small community and are always enthusiastically greeted. Teachers they see who have had a student in the program still recall years later the difference HEROS made for that child. “The fact that they remember it was HEROS that made that impact on that child and the day to day school experience tells me that the program is more far reaching than we volunteers are aware,” shared Kelly.
Driving the bus gives Roy the opportunity to go to the schools and talk to the teachers and principals of the HEROS kids. Every time he goes to one of the schools to pick-up, he’s warmly welcomed and gets positive feedback from the staff, especially about how HEROS addresses the kid’s needs. “You hear the principal say, ‘We never hear Charlie, who grew a foot over the summer, complain that his gear doesn’t fit’ and that’s because we fit them out every time they grow.” Roy explains, “The program takes barriers and limitations, like not having money for gear or a ride to the rink, and eliminates them completely so kids have a chance to have fun and play the sport they love.
One of the key things both Roy and Kelly notice is that the smallest gestures can sometimes have the biggest impact on the kids. “A lot of the kids don’t get praised at home and get quite a negative influence instead, so we make certain that we go that extra step to give them praise, even if things don’t go quite the way you think it should go. It’s amazing what a little bit of praise can do for some of these kids,” explained Roy. Roy and Kelly work together to ensure that the kids are thriving both in HEROS and through other initiatives that teach life skills. If they see that a participant is struggling academically, they suggest other extra-curricular classes like shop, woodworking or mechanics classes that Roy teaches at the local schools, “I suggest perhaps… try working with your hands at my program.” Roy’s influence works both at the program and at school “When I see kids enjoying my program and are talking about sports and stuff like this, I say hey why don’t you come and try HEROS.” The key part of working with kids is to help them find an outlet where they can have fun and learn.
One of their “highlight reel moments” at HEROS is the first hockey game they organized for the kids. The HEROS participants had never played a game of hockey so were unfamiliar with rules of the game but, as Kelly described, that didn’t stop them from playing as best as they could, “The evolution in their ability to play was remarkable from the first period to the third period. Something clicked in their heads and they went, ‘Oh this is how you do it.’ and ‘Oh I can do that.’ Literally you can see them improve before your eyes within that one game.” No matter how much energy and resources the program can take, there’s one thing that makes it all worthwhile: the kids’ smiling faces. Like yin and yang, both Kelly and Roy have different levels of hockey experience, yet their different strengths bring positive change to the Sunshine Coast chapter of HEROS and youth in their community.