“Cows that type. Hens on strike! Whoever heard of such a thing?,” read Oilers forward Will Acton
to the Grade 2 classrooms at St. Mary Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. Hands in their laps, sitting cross-legged on the floor, students listened intently to the words of Doreen Cronin from the book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, read aloud by one of their idols.
Part of Read In Week, a city-wide initiative that has been promoting literacy since 1990, Acton and fellow teammates Mark Arcobello and Steve MacIntyre hit local classrooms in the greater Edmonton area for an afternoon of storytelling and literacy awareness.
“We were fortunate enough to come in today and read to a couple classrooms, helping stress the importance of reading,” said Acton. “Obviously reading is extremely important. I don’t think you’d be able to be a hockey player or anything significant for that matter if you weren’t able to read.”
"It was a great opportunity to get out in the community and read to the kids,” added Arcobello. “I had a lot of fun answering all their questions. I think they really enjoyed it."
While many schools invite parents and community members to partake in Read In Week activities, Saint Mary’s Principal, Bill Moreau, greatly appreciated the opportunity to have a professional athlete share the gift of literacy.
“We know that professional athletes are role models,” said Moreau. “They hung on to every word and it will impact them and motivate them to continue to read, make sure they stay in school and be as literate as possible so that they can become great citizens in our society.”
Over 350 schools from the greater Edmonton region applied for the chance to be a part of the Oilers Read In Week program. While only a handful of classrooms were able to participate, chosen by a random lottery draw, the response was overwhelming for the Oilers organization.
“We are incredibly fortunate to live in a community that is so passionate about their hockey team,” said Oilers President & COO Patrick LaForge. “The players are always grateful to have the opportunity to help influence and shape young minds.”
Oilers Read In Week activities don’t stop here, however. Over a dozen members of the Oilers Octane will be visiting classrooms on Friday, sharing their favourite books and continuing to spread the joy of reading.