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National Leasing employees with Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy participants

For National Leasing employees and kids In-need, it’s more than hockey

Jani Sorensen

By: , Manager, Communications & Brand

Every Thursday morning for the past six months, over 30 in-need kids from Stevenson-Britannia School and 10 rotating National Leasing employees have laced-up and hit the ice at the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA).

“It’s more than hockey,” says Colleen Macdonell, Resource Teacher. “It’s a chance for our kids to leave their issues behind and work together as a team. If academics aren’t their strength, it gives them a chance to excel at something else. Kids who were shy and reluctant, are now coming out of their shells. Kids who couldn’t even stand on skates are now doing drills, their confidence building each time. When we put on our jerseys, we feel like we are more than a hockey team, we are a family – and for many of these kids, their real family can’t be or isn’t there for them.”

The objective of the WJHA is to increase school attendance all the way from elementary through middle school and ultimately have a positive effect on high school graduation rates for socially and economically challenged kids.

“We believe making a connection with a positive role model motivates kids of all ages to stay in school,” explains Murray Cobb, Director, WJHA. “Hockey is the vehicle used to make that connection. Suddenly your teacher isn’t giving you detention; they are tying your skates. Then, in middle school they meet our part-time University staff and start to think, ‘hey, that could be me one day.’ Then they remember that volunteer that came from one of our 11 corporate partners and it clicks. ‘If I stay in school, one day I can have a job like that and help kids like me.’”

National Leasing volunteer with WJHA participant

Brittany Macmillan, Manager, Customer Service and David Unruh, Account Manager, Syndication Services (or Coach Pancakes to the kids) are the two National Leasing employees who have been at the rink for 30 Thursday mornings in a row.

“It’s amazing these kids have access to hockey,” says Brittany. “I grew up playing hockey and understand the positive effects it can have on a child. To be able to give back and have an employer who not only allows, but also creates, work-hour volunteer opportunities is phenomenal. The memories I’ve made will last a lifetime.”

So, what do the kids have to say? Joseph Mclean, grade four adds, “You get to have fun, meet new people, see new stuff. It’s just a lot of fun!”

National Leasing is proud to be one of 11 corporations providing on and off-ice volunteers to the WJHA which runs weekly access to hockey programs through 17 schools reaching 575 students. On hockey days, kids are 7.2 times more likely to attend school. The in-kind donation National Leasing has made through volunteer time to WJHA totals approximately $12,000.

Learn more about National Leasing’s community involvement or the WJHA.

Related: National Leasing Hosts Eye Opening Poverty Simulation

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