February is ‘I Love to Read’ month and that means children across the province will be taking time out of their busy schedules to promote literacy in the hockey playing population. One local elementary school sent more than a dozen children to the Keystone Centre to read to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“These kids are great role models for the players,” said teacher Mrs. Friesen. “The players look up to these kids, so when they see little Alice or Dylan reading a book it inspires them to pick up a book once in a while themselves.”
The program has seen great success over the years, improving literacy rates among hockey players by over 50%.
“These days, we even have a few players skimming through the Hockey News on the bus toward Moose Jaw. It’s baby steps, you know…” said Friesen. “However, we haven’t been able to do anything to improve the interview skills of the players. It’s still a lot of ‘we need to work harder, get pucks to the net, stay out of the penalty box.'”
After reading a few Captain Underpants chapters, the kids from Brandon Elementary stuck around to sign autographs for the players.
“It’s really amazing how much time these kids are willing to put in,” said Friesen. “It’s tremendously rewarding. I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes I think kids are learning just as much from the players as the players are from the children.”
‘I Love to Read’ month ends with a huge BBQ at the arena on February 23. Macaroni and cheese with bits of hot dog will be served and the children will be available to crayon their names onto your T-shirts.