Kids learn ‘police are people too, they are there to help
The locker rooms in a hockey arena buzz with children looking for hockey skates, helmets and gloves before heading on the ice.
Volunteers — parents and police officers — assist by tying up skates and helping children look for equipment that’s been spread all over the floor.
Clearly this isn’t a regular hockey program — kids show up on a weekly basis to participate and not all of them know how to play hockey.
The program, Power Play, is a collaboration between the Calgary Police Service and Hockey Calgary. Const. Rayn Boyko, program organizer, said, “the program started last year for children from low-income families,” and has about 55 kids, ages nine to 17, learning to play hockey for free.
Elmi Abdi, 14, used to play hockey when he was younger but had to stop playing due to his parent’s separation.
Hayat Yousef, a mother and volunteer for Power Play, said, “I’ve seen kids that have never skated before and in a few sessions they are already playing hockey with a team. So it’s really empowering to see that.”
Yousef said she believed that the police presence is “great because people have dilemmas with the police world, especially young people, or for those that walk with stigma or don’t fit in with society,” she said.
“This program is helping the kids to understand that the police are people too, and they are there to help.”
Const. Derek MacNaughton with the Calgary Police Service said, “It’s a wonderful program. You can sure see the differences in the kids, and their level of enjoyment from this year to when they started last year.”
“I’ve been with the program since it started so it’s neat to see that the kids have invited their friends, and it has doubled, nearly tripled since last year. You can sure see their willingness to participate.”
This program is not only about learning hockey skills — it encourages children to socialize with others, including police officers.
“Most kids that come here, all of them actually can’t really afford hockey, because it is expensive. But it also gives them an opportunity to meet other friends,” Yousef said.
Amina Ofleh registered her five children to participate in Power Play because, “Children must be registered in sports, as that’s how children socialize. It keeps them busy, and out of the home,” she said.
Ayani Ali, 14, said he likes seeing his friends from school and meeting different people. He also “likes playing with the police officers because they are nice.”
Abdi also enjoys playing with the police officers. “They are friendly and they all are very good hockey players. It’s fun to learn from them,” he said.
Abdi participated with Power Play last year and made new friends. He returned this year to see his friends again.
Jordan Fleming, 11, is in his first year participating with Power Play. A hockey fan, Fleming learned about the program online and decided to apply. “I am going to stay the whole year,” he said.
Fleming enjoys participating in this program, which may help him with his future goals. “When I am older I either want to be a cop or play for the Edmonton Oilers,” he said.
For more information about Power Play, phone: 403-206-8399.
Or, visit the Calgary Police Service website at: