New hockey program in Nova Scotia is breaking down barriers to help kids get to play – Halifax
A modest hockey group in Nova Scotia is working to break down the barriers that keep kids from playing the sport.
The Eastern Shore Minor Hockey Association (ESMHA) is hoping to inspire more youth in rural communities to lace up their skates through its new program.
President Paul Anderson says he has launched an “Introduction to Hockey” program and held a showcase at the Eastern Shore Recreation Center on Saturday to bring the community to the rink over their shared love of hockey.
“Not only to celebrate the success of the program but to encourage other rural communities that anyone can do this program,” says Anderson. “Volunteers just take some time and hard work.”
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The initiative was launched after a committee was formed in 2020 with the goal of connecting youth and connecting communities. It offers a light practice program with ten sessions located at community rinks, with funding to help cover the cost of hockey gear for the children.
Development co-ordinator Becky Warner says youth in rural areas can face unique challenges to play sport.
“Sometimes there is more travel to the local rink. There can be more financial burden in a rural community,” she says. “We just knew that we could get more youth engagement because recreation in general or There is not much opportunity for sports either.
Warner says he has experienced firsthand the importance of connecting with the community through hockey.
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“I grew up here, I played hockey here on the Eastern Shore since I was four years old. The smell of the Zamboni smoke gets me every time,” she says. “It’s one of the main memories I have, and For me, it was about making it for all the kids who want it too.”
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Young hockey players say the program inspires them to dream big and have fun.
“it’s a game!” Benjamin Rideout says. “The players can get better at it and play in the national league.”
Friends Lily Boutilier and Ella Lambert are happy spending time together on the ice.
“It’s really cool to make new friends and build on your skills in hockey,” says Boutilier.
“Same for me, I’m really excited, nervous sometimes, but I always have fun during games,” says Lambert.
Organizers say the event has been a huge success since its launch in November. The showcase saw 43 players put on their skates and hit the ice on Saturday.
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