Calgary, AB,

Power Play skates into its seventh season

The Calgary Police Service will take to the ice Wednesday evening when police officers and civilian staff will be at Max Bell Arena to kick off the seventh season of Power Play.

Power Play started in 2010 as a way for the Service to reach out to youth with either financial or cultural barriers to playing sport. Children between the ages of six and 17 get bused to the arena, provided with equipment and taught how to play hockey by volunteers from across the Service.

“We have many families in the program that are suspicious of us at first because of past experiences or what they have come to believe about the police,” says Constable Jack Mills, Power Play Coordinator with the Calgary Police Service. “The trust and relationships built through the program help both the parents and children learn that police officers are good people that can be turned to for help.”

The Power Play program is completely free for participants and teaches youth how to play hockey in the winter and soccer in the summer. Typically, 70 to 100 kids come to the hockey lessons each week.

In addition to building trust between Calgarians and police, the program gives participants more common ground with their peers. Knowing how to skate and play hockey gives youth a way to relate to their peers and helps them to participate more fully in the Calgary community. The program also gives them access to an extracurricular activity that they would otherwise not be able to try.

The increased feeling of belonging and added activity both reduce the children’s likelihood of being vulnerable to criminal activity.

“The Calgary Police Foundation is proud to support Power Play as a way to prevent children and youth from victimization and engaging in criminal activity,” says Marla Cohen, Executive Director of the Calgary Police Foundation. “We’ve seen the impact of Power Play and are impressed with the difference it's making to youth and their families.”

Power Play runs from October to March, every Wednesday night. Police officers coach participants on and off the ice, and officers, CPS civilians and members of the community volunteer their time to help kids with fitting equipment, lacing skates, snack preparation and clean up.

The program is one of six youth-based programs funded annually by the Calgary Police Foundation and ice time is donated by Hockey Calgary.

Calgarians wanting to donate equipment for the kids can do so by calling 403-428-2243.