Thanks to the National Hockey League Players’ Association Goals and Dreams fund, students at Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute can learn to play hockey.
Susan Birket, a teacher at the school who volunteered to play hockey with the students, is excited about the program.
“I love getting on the ice,” Birket said. “It is really nice to be able to help people who normally wouldn’t get to go on the ice.”
On Feb. 26, the school had their first practice after receiving 25 new sets of hockey equipment from the NHLPA Goals and Dreams fund.
Tasneem Munir, a teacher at Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute and the hockey program staff adviser, started the program after being involved in the program at her previous school, Sir Sandford Fleming Academy.
“I started the program here because I was part of it at my old school,” she said. “A colleague of mine had sent in an application form for the funding, so I knew how to organize it.”
Birket got involved with the program because she plays in a women’s recreational hockey league.
“I thought because the program was going to be co-ed, even though only one girl is signed up now, it would be a good idea to have a female for help in the dressing room and stuff like that,” Birket said.
The students will be playing a game against Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute, a school also funded by the NHLPA Goals and Dreams fund, on April 19.
Munir says it’s an absolute pleasure to be with the participants on the ice.
“I just learned how to skate with them. It is also good for the students to see the teachers outside of the classroom setting,” Munir said.
At Lester B. Pearson, there are currently 20 students and six teachers signed up for the program. Participants play every Thursday after school at the Malvern Arena Ice Skating Rink.
Munir said the students were enthusiastic when they started the program. She said it is something new and exciting for them, and it keeps them physically active.
The NHLPA Goals and Dreams fund donates to volunteer-based programs that help economically disadvantaged children play hockey. NHL players donate new equipment for the children. Since the start of the program, they have donated equipment to more than 60,000 children in 25 countries.