Neighborhoods in the near east and south sides of downtown Columbus are faced with many challenges. The neighborhoods are plagued with vacant homes and abandoned buildings. Crime is high and for kids growing up in these neighborhoods, they have few choices for safe and engaging activities afterschool.
When After-School All-Stars Columbus opened its doors in this part of downtown, they quickly discovered that while many of the schools had various service providers and student-focused events, the student engagement and participation levels were low and inconsistent. ASAS needed to find a way to keep these kids safe afterschool and successfully engage them by providing unique experiences during the afterschool hours. Hockey was the answer!
After receiving a grant from the Columbus Blue Jacket Foundation, the charitable organization within the NHL team, ASAS Columbus launched Camp Hockey Heroes – a week-long youth leadership and mentoring program based on the successful curriculum of ASAS National’s Camp Hoop Heroes. The program involves learning the sport of hockey alongside mentors that offer advice about school, careers and self-improvement. In the program’s first year, 20 students from Champion Middle School participated. Many of these students had their first encounter with ice skating, which was quite a memorable experience. Throughout the week, they learned about careers both on and off the ice, and enjoyed a behind-the-scene tour of the Fox Sports Ohio production truck before attending a hockey game. Looking ahead, ASAS Columbus plans on introducing Camp Hockey Heroes to two more schools – a program proven to engage students craving for something fun to do afterschool.