The Prince George Cougars’ active and healthy lifestyle choices have been echoed to elementary students for six consecutive years, but it’s only been restricted to schools in the city.
The team, and its Spirit of Healthy Kids (SOHK) program, came to a conclusion they needed to expand and plant more roots in northern B.C., doing so by expanding the campaign and offering it to more than 220 schools.
.@PGCougars going regional with Spirit of Healthy Kids, a 2-week initiative that sees players go into schools teaching young students about active lifestyles 😺 They will now reach to 220 schools in northern B.C. with the program | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/OioKtp7Mkj— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) September 24, 2019
This would cover over 33,000 students in Northern Health’s jurisdiction, one of the partners in SOHK’s collaboration.
“I think of my daughter when I think of this program, you know, she’s 11 years old and loves being active,” said Northern Health Community Funding Coordinator Andrew Steele to PrinceGeorgeMatters in harnessing a personal connection with SOHK. “In her, I see outcomes that can be tied directly to this program. The more that we can engage children in physical activity, in reading, in preventing smoke and vape practices or substance use, the healthier they stay and those habits will carry into their adulthood.”
.@Northern_Health Andrew Steele says Spirit of Healthy Kids has reached out to over 18,000 kids in last 6 years. Through @PGCougars partnership, he’s confident they can get to “over 30,000 more in one year” | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/B0iAmqM25W— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) September 24, 2019
Part of Steele’s position with the regional health authority will be to facilitate the new grant initiative associated with Spirit of Healthy Kids.
Starting Oct. 1 and ending on Oct. 31, northern region schools can apply for the following grants:
- $5,000 = Education facilities with the highest participation rate among students
- $1,000 = Five individual grants awarded to other participant schools
- $500 = Any school that submits completed participating tracking forms
“If we’re able to get really broad participation, and we’ve reached out to all the schools through the school districts and we’ve spread the word about the program,” added Steele. “So we’re hopeful that a lot of schools will choose to participate. It’ll take us a while to get to that number of 33,000, but that’s the potential scope.”
Community is one of the pillars the Cougars hockey club prides itself on building foundations for a strong organization, which is seen in the eyes of kids when players come into classrooms to read and take photos.
The effect Prince George has had on young children for many seasons resonated with Andy Beesley, who recounts a time when a man came up to have a conversation about Spirit of Healthy Kids.
“Maybe three years ago, I was walking around the [CN Centre] concourse in the wintertime and an elderly gentleman pulled me aside,” said the Cougars’ Vice-President of Business. “He said ‘You’re that Beesley fellow with the Cougars,’ I said, ‘Yes, I am,’ and then I asked, ‘What brings you here today?’ He said, ‘I’m walking around the concourse with my grandson, and it’s because of your players that I’m doing this. Your players were at my grandson’s school talking about healthy lifestyles and how you have to get out to have 60 minutes of exercise a day. So, my grandkid drags me out every day and we have to laps now because the Cougars say it’s cool to get exercise.’ That was a remarkable story to hear.”
Cougar players are also encouraged during assemblies with the elementary students to share personal stories about topics they believe in and how they got to the physically active lifestyle they live out every day.
More information about the SOHK campaign is on the Cougars website.