I had never been to Sioux Lookout, or Northwestern Ontario, for that matter. Yet here I was, working away in my hotel room when a friend posted a link on my Facebook Wall. “School hockey program in northern Ontario keeps kids in class and out of trouble: A school in Sioux Lookout Ontario has integrated hockey into it’s phys-ed curriculum, and attendance improved.”
“Did you know I was in Sioux Lookout when you posted this for me?” I asked my friend.
“No….why are you in Sioux Lookout?” She did not know. Just a strange coincidence with a big impact.
Truthfully, I would not have been in Sioux Lookout if my work had not taken me there. In my spare time when I’m not being a Hockey Mom, I run a consulting business – educational and community based research. For one current contract I am travelling to communities across Ontario on behalf of Parents for Children’s Mental Health and The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health. I facilitate “consultations” (focus groups, usually 12-16 participants), co-facilitated with a family member from the community, and we ask for feedback from family members who have experience with child and youth community mental health services. It has been moving and meaningful work for me, trying to help families have a voice in changing the mental health system for the better.
It was a strange synchronicity, sitting in that hotel room in Sioux Lookout, that had both my worlds collide. My professional world, a consultant focusing on community mental health and educational research, and my recreational world, running the most engaged community of hockey moms. And posted for me by a friend was a story that solved the puzzle of how these worlds interrelate so perfectly. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately, how does my “real” work relate to my “Hockey Mom” work. Because I knew it did, and it does. My friend shared a story that had aired on CBC only days before, that highlights Sioux Mountain Public School, Coach Steve Dumonski, and a hockey academy program that was making a difference in children’s lives, and in fact the whole community. It is a story that weaves together hockey, community, fitness, education, health, mental health, and addictions. It shows the power of community, and hockey, to make a difference and to build resilience in all players, to help them face the challenges that lay ahead.
I urge you to watch. If you love hockey, if you love the resilience of Canadians, you will love this video.
I have always believed in the power of community. I also believe in the power of sport, in the connections that are made, and how one person can make all the difference in the world for a child. Hockey is making a difference for children in Sioux Lookout.
I leaned recently that Sioux Lookout is planning on making a run for Kraft Hockeyville. While I was in the community and not knowing of their intentions (or even a single soul in the community) I visited Sioux Lookout Memorial Arena, and I stopped by the outdoor rink, packed with kids playing under the lights at 8:30 at night. I saw the passion of the people, and the community, for hockey, and for each other. I certainly support Sioux Lookout in their run. I hope you do too.
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