EDMONTON, AB – The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) is proud to announce $2.1 million in donations to KidSport Alberta and Free Play for Kids to help grow the game of hockey in Oil Country. The donations will help fund KidSport’s Hockey Assist Program (HAP) and Free Play for Kids’ year-round initiatives.

“We believe that youth participation in sport is a key to the future success of our communities. Not only does it fuel healthy habits, academic success and mental health, it cultivates our future leaders, ignites inclusivity and leads to a safer, more prosperous Oil Country,” said Myrna Khan, Executive Director, EOCF.

“That’s why we are so excited to partner with KidSport and Free Play for Kids to help cover the costs for families that would not otherwise be able to afford to have their kids participate in organized sports. With this donation, we will ensure that kids across Oil Country can access the activities and join teams that create passion that lasts a lifetime.”

The average minor hockey registration fee across Oil Country is $750 per season. Currently, 25 localized KidSport Alberta chapters raise funds in their community to assist with $250 per season. Being able to provide $250 to low-income families leaves a gap which prevents many kids from participating in hockey. This donation closes that gap and ensures that KidSport Alberta is able to proceed with HAP registrations for the 2023-24 minor hockey season.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous support of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and thrilled to launch season two of the KidSport Oil Country Hockey Assist Program,” said Kelly Oehlerking, Executive Director of KidSport Alberta. “With their donation of $1.5 million, we can help even more kids in Oil Country play the game of hockey by covering their registration fees and providing access to no-cost equipment.

“In season one, we were able to assist more than 1,400 kids, and we look forward to expanding our reach in season two to ensure no child is excluded based on their financial situation. Thank you to the EOCF for their commitment to making hockey more accessible to all children in our community.”

Free Play for Kids operates upwards of 40 program sites year-round in schools, recreation centres and community halls, using sport and recreation as a tool to teach social, emotional and mental health to deserving youth in Oil Country.

“Kids need caring and consistent people in their lives. At Free Play, we pride ourselves on being those people. We pride ourselves on being the ones who show up, everyday,” said Tim Adams, Founder & Executive Director, Free Play for Kids. “This is a big promise to keep when our organization feels like it’s fighting every day for the funds to stay afloat. Today’s announcement, and this partnership with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, provides the stability we need to surround kids and families with that care and consistency. This is how long-term change is made.”

Families in Oil Country can go to kidsportcanada.ca and freeplayforkids.com to learn more and register for these programs.