The Calgary Flames kicked off the 15th season of Reading Give it a Shot! January 20th at Mother Mary Greene Elementary school in Northwest Calgary. Flames players and program Ambassadors Robyn Regehr, David Moss and Mark Giordano plus mascot Harvey the Hound were all at the school to talk to Grade four, five and six students and kick off this exciting annual initiative.
“This is the tenth year I have been involved with Reading Give it a Shot!” says Flames Assistant Captain Robyn Regehr. “Over the years I am continually impressed with the students we visit, their questions and the results of the program.”
The Flames players were welcomed with an overwhelming GO FLAMES GO chant from the children, who were all dressed in red or in their favourite Flames jerseys. Each player answered a few questions from the kids and reinforced their support of, not only the program, but the benefits of literacy.
"It was great. They were so excited for us to be there," said Moss. "We should bring them down to the Saddledome I think!
"We're people they look up to and if they can see that we're reading and promoting it, it hopefully teaches them at a young age that reading is such an important part of life and they will relate to it."
The children weren't the only ones enjoying themselves. The Flames players were all very excited to be there with over 100 smiling faces excited to see them. It gives the players a chance to go outside the game of hockey, even if only for an hour or two.
"It's nice anytime to get away from the rink and see a lot of smiling faces," said Moss. "These kids don't care that we lost last night, they're just excited that we're here. It takes your mind off of things a bit."
The program runs January 12th to March 14th, 2011. Students will receive bookmarks featuring various Flames players based upon minutes spent reading. For every 100 minutes of reading time, students will receive one of the 24 Flames commemorative bookmarks that include an action shot as well as stats about the player.
"This year we have six Calgary school divisions that are partaking," explained Program and Events Manager of the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation, Amee Miller. "It's now up to about 19,000 students so it is greatly successful. We have so many teachers telling us the number of children whose reading has gone up so much while this program is running."
In addition to the bookmarks, there are also other initiatives at the end of the program. Students can be nominated by their teachers for the most improved reader. 15 lucky kids are selected and get to go to a Flames game and meet some of the players' one on one.
"It's a really positive program for the students because it gives them a reward every time they have been reading so they really take that as an incentive to get motivated to read," said Grade four teacher Mike Bulger.
"You'll have kids that are very passive readers become more active readers and they will take the initiative to pull books out and start reading because they can see the rewards that come from it. The more that they are involved with reading, the more it will become part of their own life."
This is not the first time that Mother Mary Greene School Principal, Lindy Arndt, has been involved in the program. She feels that the program has proven to be very successful and will continue to do so for many years.
"The program is awesome," said Arndt. "The kids really love it. We have different types of reading programs but for division two, grades four, five and six, especially with the boys, this is something that gets them really interested and keeps their focus on wanting to read more to get the next bookmark. It's a really good incentive for the kids."
Reading...Give it a shot is just one of the many great programs that the Flames participate in. Giving back to the community and helping the next generation get excited about reading, is what this one is all about.