By working closely with local and provincial officials in north eastern China, the New York Islanders have embarked upon an unprecedented multi-faceted education initiative that will undoubtedly change the lives of young athletes forever: Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey Project Hope.
One of the major goals of Project Hope is to provide young Chinese athletes with access to educational opportunities through the sport of ice hockey.
Project Hope will endeavor to create opportunities for cultural exchange through international youth hockey events and by promoting Project Hope scholarship placements in the United States.
One of the hallmarks of Project Hope, is to enroll Chinese scholar-athletes in New York Islanders-affiliated youth hockey programs in and around Heilongjiang Province. Once enrolled, the students must study English as part of their regular curriculum with a goal of achieving fluency in both written and conversational English.
Since 2005, Project Hope has enabled young Chinese athletes to compete in international Pee-Wee hockey tournaments. Today, that venture has grown into the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament held each year at Islanders Iceworks and Nassau Coliseum.
Lighthouse International Hockey Tournament
Entering its third year, the Lighthouse International Hockey Tournament has become a fixture of the Islanders Children’s Foundation hockey development program. This year’s tournament will be held at Nassau Coliseum on February 19–21, 2009.
The Lighthouse International Hockey Tournament provides children from the New York area with the unique multi-cultural experience of interacting with children from around the world, including Project Hope teams from China, all through the sport of ice hockey.
“What a great opportunity for players to see the world through the love of sport,” said Dan Bedard, Director of Amateur Hockey Development. “Kids from different countries will come together and play a Round Robin tournament at Islanders Iceworks and the Coliseum. The cultural experience for all participants is clearly illustrated on the smiles on their faces when sharing their common love of hockey.”
For this year’s tournant, the United States will be represented by teams from Nassau and Suffolk counties, China through Project Hope, Finland, and Japan.
Charles B. Wang Project Hope Tournament
The Mustangs of the Nassau County Hockey League earned the right to travel and compete in China this winter in the Charles B. Wang Project Hope Tournament—which will be held in Harbin. The team earned that right by selling 3,936 Islanders game tickets, more than any other youth hockey house league team. They will compete against teams from Russia, China through Project Hope, and Finland.
“The boys are extremely excited to go,” said Mark Lamarr, Nassau County Hockey Director. “The kids and parents set out to accomplish a goal, which they ultimately achieved. They went above and beyond and the response was overwhelming. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids to play hockey over in China.”