In a small and stuffy locker room at the Laura Sims Skate House, kids scramble to dissemble their hockey gear. They are loud and exhausted as they just stepped off the ice from a long practice, but excited to sit down for their bi-weekly lesson on nutrition.
These kids are part of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Founded by Ed Snider, Chairman of the Philadelphia Flyers, the foundation provides more than 3,000 children in the greater Philadelphia area with the means to play hockey.
This means free equipment, ice time and experienced coaching. The foundation isn’t just about hockey though, as they aim to provide kids with the off-ice skills needed in order to promote academic and personal development.
According to the Afterschool Alliance, approximately 50,000 of Philadelphia’s urban students do not have access to out-of-school programs due to cost and availability.
In addition, two-thirds of Philadelphia children ages 6-14 have parents who are unable to care for them between the hours of 3:00-6:30 p.m. – the same hours in which 65 percent of all juvenile crime in Philadelphia occurs.
“We want to make sure they are staying out of trouble,” said coach and mentor Kevin Burke. “We want them to have an opportunity that they might not otherwise have.”
Burke has seen the kids grow up in the program, and thinks that encouraging good habits when they are younger is the most important thing.
“Old habits die hard,” said Burke. “So if we can instill some positive habits today when they are younger, then it will make a much bigger difference for them.”
The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation welcomes volunteers and donations as they continue to bring what Ed Snider calls “the greatest game ever invited” to children in Philadelphia.
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