On November 3, over 300 youth from the YMCA of the Triangle came to the RBC Center for a Carolina Hurricanes practice to kick off our new health initiative, Health ‘N’ Hockey. We have partnered with the YMCA of the Triangle and Be Active North Carolina this season to provide a fun and exciting way to promote physical activity and healthy eating.
The statistics of overweight children are staggering and are continuing to grow each day. According to the Be Active North Carolina website, nearly half of North Carolina’s children ages 5 to 17 do not get the recommended amount of physical activity per day, and more than one third are overweight or obese. Our organization recognized the need to get kids excited about exercising and healthy eating and created a program based around our players.
The program was hosted by Ron the Ref and our in-game hostess, Maggie Reaves. Buses full of 300 kids pulled up to the RBC Center around 10:30 a.m. The kid’s faces were priceless as they entered the 18,000-plus seat arena and saw the ice and their program name flashing on the video board. The kids were seated and each child received a trivia sheet to fill out during the practice. The Carolina Hurricanes players came out on the ice around 11:00 a.m. and practiced for 45 minutes. It was exciting to watch the youth during practice because there was a mix of Hurricanes fans and kids that had never seen ice hockey played before. The YMCA counselors helped the kids encourage our players on the ice by leading the “Let’s Go Canes” cheer. They even started the wave.
At the end of practice, our official presentation began. A representative from Be Active North Carolina started off the program by speaking to the kids about ways to get the necessary 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The kids were able to gain the knowledge they need about the real reasons of why it is important to increase daily physical activity. Jay Harrison
, defenseman for the Canes, came out after practice to participate in a Q&A session with the kids. They drilled Jay with questions, both funny and serious about playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. Jay then spoke about why it is important for him and the other players to eat healthy and stay active. He encouraged all of the kids to focus on living a healthy lifestyle and finished his talk by telling the group they were an inspiration to him.
In the next segment of our program, we used Stormy and Ron the Ref to get the kids up and moving. To be honest, I get insanely excited to see Stormy. He brings so much excitement to every Hurricanes game and community event he attends. For the Health 'N' Hockey event, they created a video of five exercises to provide an entertaining way for the kids to exercise in their seats. The exercises included the ham string stretch, the side-to-side stretch, the cow-bell dance, a favorite dance move and a goal celebration. While the video played on the video board, Stormy and Ron the Ref were in front of the crowd leading the stretches.
We were lucky enough to get Pete Friesen, our Head Athletic Trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach, to speak to the group to conclude the program. He is passionate about his job and about keeping each Hurricanes player healthy and in tip-top shape. He spoke to the crowd briefly and then participated in a Q&A session.
The program ended with Ron the Ref and Maggie explaining our five-week challenge to the kids. Each child that attended received an official Health ‘N’ Hockey scorecard. On the front of the card is a physical activity challenge. For every hour of activity they complete, they get a point. They also get a point for every one hour or less of screen time (computer, TV, etc.). At the end of the five-week period, they can mail it back to us to receive a Carolina Hurricanes prize. The backside of the scorecard has Stormy tips for healthy eating and includes the www.choosemyplate.gov image to show the correct portions of food.
We have two more Health ‘N’ Hockey programs at the RBC Center this season. After the success of our first program, I am beyond excited to see the growth of this initiative. The Carolina Hurricanes are passionate and proud of our community, and we challenge all of our fans, no matter what age, to get up and MOVE!