“Empowering children on ice.”
No, that is not a typo! The name is H.E.R.O.S. Periods, capitals, and missing an ‘e’, but that is the only thing this organization is missing. Everything else you could ever hope for in a non-profit is there, and has been for 12 years now.
Hockey. Education. Reaching. Out. Society.
That’s what H.E.R.O.S stands for, but the foundation itself stands for oh so much more!
“The Hockey Education Reaching out Society is a non profit organization committed to empowering children through ice hockey. The premise of H.E.R.O.S. is to use the game of hockey as a catalyst to attract youth to a program offering support for education self-esteem building and life skills training. The program focuses on boys and girls of diverse ethnicity from economically challenged neighborhoods. The program will be conducted in an environment of fun and safety where each child is considered to be a HERO.”
H.E.R.O.S is very near and dear to my heart. My family and I became involved with the organization in its startup year, 12 years ago. The year for any startup where there is much uncertainty and great anticipation. The year where you are unrealistic if you do not wonder if the ‘great idea’ will be embraced or ignored. The year where volunteers run every which way, needing instruction and constant reaffirmation that what they are doing is what they are supposed to be doing (I know, because I was one of them)! The year where… ‘the unknown’ is both daunting and wildly exhilarating.
Unlike most startup NPOs though, it was evident at the wrap-up of the first summer camp that there was no concern for the demise of H.E.R.O.S. The way it was implemented and executed in the very first season of its existence proved that the ideas and beliefs behind the program were too strong to be broken down. The reason it could never fail is that this is a program built on the hopes and dreams of children. H.E.R.O.S confirms for us all that the dreams of children are the realities of our future and those dreams bring a community together like nothing else can.
H.E.R.O.S founder, Norm Flynn, the organization’s assiduous board of directors, dedicated volunteers, and generous sponsors have now helped children realise their dreams for 12 years, with this year being the 13th! What started as a program exclusive to children living in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, H.E.R.O.S now spans across all of Canada and has even started running in the UK. To learn more about the cities that H.E.R.O.S has touched, click here.
The premise behind H.E.R.O.S is “to use the game of hockey to attract at-risk-youth to a program that offers support for education and serves as a catalyst for self esteem building and life skills training”. Throughout my years of involvement with the program, I have witnessed ‘the bully’ of his school become a teammate to his peers, and the following summer come back as a Mentor to others in the program. I have watched a little boy not only make it through school (against many odds), but excel and proudly announce he would be enrolling in post-secondary education. I have seen the confidence levels of both young girls and young boys skyrocket with the encouragement of the H.E.R.O.S organization and team.
The shifts in attitudes, thoughts and outcomes for the children who have had the opportunity to participate in the H.E.R.O.S program are too significant to be ignored and I am so proud to be a part of such a positive endeavor.
This year the summer program will run from July 4th-7th at Britannia Rink in Vancouver . Countdown is on