February is Black History Month and the Colorado Avalanche is participating by engaging in a number of relevant programs throughout the month.
Among the initiatives that the Avalanche and Kroenke Sports Charities is helping sponsor is the Black History Month Challenge, a first-of-its-kind national competition to help high school students across the United States understand the Black experience through perspectives, successes and struggles.
The month-long challenge, created by social impact education innovator EVERFI, helps all students ages 13-18 understand what has happened in our past while drawing connections to present-day events. Students will explore topics and events such as Juneteenth, Affirmative Action, protests and marches for civil rights and equality, and the Black trailblazers in business and medicine. The challenge will INSPIRE today's students by telling stories about the Black experience in America, EMPOWER students through the counter-storytelling of Black perspectives across generations, ELEVATE history as a lens to understand current events and TRANSFORM students' perception of the world around them.
Students will have the chance to win up to $10,000 in college scholarships after completing the four lessons and submitting a short essay about how they will keep the conversation about Black history going year-round.
On the ice, the Avalanche players will be wearing "Celebrating Equality" decals with an image of Willie O'Ree on their helmets throughout the month. On Jan. 18, 1958, O'Ree became the NHL firast Black player in the NHL when he suited up for the Boston Bruins.
The Avalanche is also encouraging everyone to watch Willie O'Ree's life documentary, Willie, which showcases his journey of resilience and determination by breaking hockey's color barrier and his role that continues to this day in helping promote a message of inclusion in his current role as the NHL's Diversity Ambassador. Meaningful lessons around social justice and racism can be learned and facilitated through Willie's experience using the educator's guide, a tool for parents, teachers, clubs and coaches.
Black History Month is celebrated as part of Hockey Is For Everyone, a year-round initiative by the NHL and NHL Players' Association that celebrates diversity and inclusion in hockey.