First Strong Kids hockey game to take place this weekend

Amanda Jess
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NEW GLASGOW – Pictou County is taking to the ice on Saturday to make sure kids in the area have a chance to do the same.

Amber Austin

The inaugural Strong Kids Winter Hockey Classic is a way for two teams to raise money for a national campaign that not only promotes active living among children, but also offers subsidies to make sure kids and families have access to sports.

Paul Atta, manager of membership and marketing at the Pictou County YMCA, looked to a decrease in children playing outside in parks and an increase in Internet use as part of the reasoning behind the initiative.

“We want to make sure there’s an equal balance,” he said, adding that everyone should have the opportunity to be active.

Last year, the Pictou County YMCA invested $150,000 in subsidied memberships for kids and families, Atta said.

The campaign as a whole raised $11.4 million across the country.

Atta said the game between the YMCA Strong Kids Spinners and the Pictou County Ladies Rockettes came into fruition from Dave Nowlan and Greg MacDonald.

It started off as simply an idea to raise a little cash for a cause, but has erupted into a big thing, Atta said.

They had been hoping to raise a few thousand dollars, but have already surpassed that through donations.

Now, they’re aiming for $5,000.

“We’re happy with whatever we can get. Every little bit helps,” Atta said.  

The teams are made up of frequenters of the noontime spinning class at the YMCA and a women’s hockey league that drops by for a game once or twice a week.

The players all come from different backgrounds.

Amber Austin, group fitness instructor at the Y and one of the players on the women’s team, played minor hockey when she was younger in British Columbia.

She also participated in the B.C. Winter Games when she was 21.

She’s been in a few drop-in leagues since then.

Austin is a mother of two. She has a 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son, and sees importance in the campaign.

 “It helps children that otherwise wouldn’t be able to play.”

The annual fundraising campaign not only helps children gain access to their local YMCA, but also helps families with low incomes use the facilities, including the day care services.

 “I think it’s a great program to have in the community,” Austin said.

Following the game at the Wellness Centre at 4 p.m., there will be a silent auction at the Captain’s Helm and Crow’s Nest in the evening.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

Organizations: YMCA, Pictou County Ladies Rockettes, Wellness Centre

Geographic location: British Columbia

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