Kodiaks hit the books
Camrose Kodiaks defenceman Nick Mantai helps a trio of Sparling School students with their studies as part of the Kodiaks Cub Club program. Supplied
The Camrose Kodiaks are looking to make a difference in the classroom and on the ice this year.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League Club dropped the puck on a new reading program with elementary school kids this year called Kodiaks Cub Club.
While they have always gone to help the younger kids learn to read, they have expanded the program to include other subjects like math, and have put a together a reward system where students can earn swag, tickets and gym passes through extra-curricular reading and physical activity.
This year the Kodiaks have selected Chester Ronning School and Sparling School and will be at each school once a week.
“The big part of that is the consistency of being there all the time for the students to know our guys and for our guys to get to know the students,” said Kodiaks associate coach Nigel Dube. “It’s important for our guys to be a second voice to the teacher to encourage literacy, to encourage physical activity and do our part.”
The program is simple. For 12 hours of extra reading and physical activity the students will start to fill out a punch card and once completed they will earn a prize, which includes a kid’s meal at Wok Box, Kodiaks tickets, a Cub Club champion shirt, a string bag/backpack and a pass to Cross-Fit Camrose.
For Dube it is about more than just handing out prizes to kids. It’s about the one-on-one engagement. He calls books a gift that can be opened over and over again. If reading with a Kodiaks player encourages it, that’s an off-ice win for the hockey club.
“The rewarding thing is to sit back and see that it lights up the kids’ faces with smiles and you see the energy that it brings,” said Dube. “Maybe they’re going to be excited that Wednesday because they get to go to school and see the Kodiaks.”
As an extension to the program, they also joined with Rotary Club Daybreak to build new community library boxes to add to the ones already throughout Camrose. The goal is to make reading more accessible, and not just for kids who cannot get to the Camrose Public Library.
The boxes work on an honour system and provides a range of books for a neighbourhood.
“We want to encourage kids to read and do all of those things outside of school, but the reality is some might not have books at home,” said Dube. “This is a way for us to provide those to the community, not only the students.”
Kodiaks Cub Club is also good training for the players. It creates an opportunity them to find ways to connect with younger people and make them feel comfortable, especially the kids who are a little shy or introverted. It plays a big role in teaching them to be role models.
“For our guys, it works on those life skills, and that’s what we’re about as a junior team,” said Dube. “We’re building success for life.”