CALGARY, AB — When the devastating wildfires hit Fort McMurray, residents fled to many different areas, including Calgary.
The Universities and Colleges of Calgary gladly opened up their residences for many families who were affected by the tragedy.
The University School nearby did just the same as they welcomed all of the children into their school to finish off the year.
However, moving 108 kids into an already full school is no easy matter.
“It was really hectic in the beginning, but we got going really fast,” admitted Courtney Heriot, a Grade 3/4 teacher at University School. “My teaching partner Jill was with the kids for the first couple of days before I came to the school.
“I was very impressed by how resilient the kids were. They came in and adapted very well to the new school, way better than the adults would.”
Early on, the Calgary community jumped on board to help give back to the kids.
They donated money, time, and essentials for the families.
“When the Fort Mac students came to our school, we had 108 of them at our school,” said University School Principal Kathy Salmon. “Everyone from the community came and donated school supplies and winter clothing because it was snowing then.”
ELEV8 Lacrosse wanted to help, as well.
Geoff Snider, President of ELEV8 Lacrosse and former Calgary Roughnecks transition player, was intent on finding a way to give back to the children.
Bringing the ELEV8 Classroom Lacrosse program to University School was the solution.
“We were looking at ways to contribute and make a tangible contribute to the environment here,” Snider said. “The environment here with people being affected by the wildfires….we tried to find out where the kids are displaced and offer the classroom program to all the students.
“The program was partly as a reward to the students for being so welcoming to the displaced students and to take some time off the minds of the kids that are here worried about their homes. That was a priority to us.”
Salmon echoed the statement of having the children focusing their minds on something other than the events that had occurred.
“When Elev8 Lacrosse came and donated a sporting experience to these kids, it showed that while they might have all of this hardship and they might be worried about stuff at home, but they wanted to take their mind off of it,” Salmon said.
This Classroom Lacrosse program is designed to introduce the kids to the sport of lacrosse and teach them the basics of the game.
It’s meant to be fun, too.
“We try to make it as fun and as informative as possible,” admitted Snider.
“A lot. So much. Like, a lot!” said one young girl of the fun she was having.
Even the teachers had a great time with the program.
“The teachers have found it amazing,” said Salmon. “They enjoyed having professionals teach the kids the skills. The students really appreciated meeting the Roughnecks players and enjoyed how they were challenged to learn the basics of lacrosse.”
With the help of ELEV8 coaches and Roughnecks players Curtis Dickson and Bob Snider (also the VP, Operations and Player Development for ELEV8), the students got an authentic experience learning from professionals.
Having that one on one connection with the professional coaches is something on which ELEV8 prides itself.
“I think it’s not just meeting the guys, but having the guys coaching and actually giving the sport some credibility as you’re learning,” Snider said. “It’s one thing to send the athletes out, but to have the coaches that we have working with the kids and working closely with the kids, they find the successes and enjoy the sport more.”
What Elev8 has done for these kids is admirable and truly a wonderful experience.
The children were thrilled to be able to learn a new skill, play the sport, and engage in some friendly competition to let their minds escape from the tragedy that occurred.
This program goes to show just how powerful sport can be when it comes to impacting the lives of young people.
For more information about ELEV8 Lacrosse and their camps, visit www.elev8lacrosse.com!