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The Oil Country Hockey Assist Program Gets More Kids into Hockey

One in three Canadian children are on the sidelines due to the costs of organized sports. Since 1993, KidSport has helped underserviced children access sports by providing grants. Now, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), KidSport Albert and Sport Central have teamed up to offer the most ambition program yet. It’s called the Oil Country Hockey Assist Program (HAP)

“It all got started with the success of the Oilers’ 50/50 draws during the height of COVID,” says Blake Schneider, Secretary/Treasurer, KidSport St. Albert. Through that program, the EOCF contributed around $2 million, and they continue to support KidSport chapters across Northern Alberta.”

Schneider continues, “KidSport St. Albert typically has funding limits of around $300 per year (for those that meet the application criteria). Pre-pandemic in hockey we funded 17 children in 2019 and 22 in 2018. That is, our organization paying up to $300 per child. However, hockey registration fees can be upwards of $700-$1000 per child, leaving a gap for underserved families to fund. With HAP, those fees can be fully funded. To compare, this year in St. Albert registration is ongoing, but we have already funded 21 children for about $17,000. In addition, Sports Central helps HAP applicants with hockey equipment, further reducing the costs that are typically passed on to parents.”

The ultimate goal is to get more kids playing hockey by removing the financial barriers that keep them out of the game.

To be eligible for HAP, families must meet the financial qualifications, be registered in the hockey program for which they are applying, be 18 or under and live within St Albert city limits. The application documents must include proof of hockey program registration and proof of financial status. Children of Ukrainian refugees have a different set of criteria for document submission. All the details and application links are accessible here: https://kidsportcanada.ca/alberta/st-albert.

For children and their families, access to sports can make a world of difference. Children that participate in sports are more likely to retain healthy habits, develop leadership and teamwork skills, respect authority, follow rules, become independent and much more. Sports provide more than a “game” for children and youth; sports provide a framework to build on for life. Unfortunately, organized sports – especially hockey – can be prohibitively expensive, and even more surprising is the generational impact.

According to a report by Statistics Canada, “Children who have a parent with a graduate or first professional university degree were more likely to play sports than children whose parents have a high school diploma. Children of parents who have not graduated from high school are even less likely to be sports participants. The relationship between parental level of education and sports participation of their children is linked to household income, as the children of university-educated parents are more likely to be in high-income households.” Additionally, “… children of recent immigrants are less likely to participate in sports than children of Canadian-born parents.”

The many, life-long benefits of sports should not be limited by socio-economic or immigrant status. KidSport has ben changing and challenging this narrative for nearly 30 years. Now, with HAP, even more children are getting the chance to break through barriers, play sports, and become the next community leaders.

The benefits of KidSport grants and the HAP program cannot be understated. If you or someone you know could benefit from financial assistance to get a child into hockey in Alberta, visit KidSport online today to learn more. KidSport is also active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.