RIVER ROUGE, Mich. — The students at Ann Visger Elementary School received a special visit on Wednesday afternoon.
Joakim Andersson stopped by during the Red Wings School Assembly Program at the school and spoke to more than 600 children from kindergarten to fifth grade.
“It’s fun to see the kids, this is my favorite thing to do outside of the rink,” he said. “We do a lot of different things but I like this. The kids are happy and they like the Red Wings.”
Andersson told the students about his favorite subjects when he was in school and how thankful he was for learning English, allowing him the ability to talk to them. He helped introduce the students to the game of hockey and was there to present a set of floor hockey sticks, two sets of goalie pads and hockey nets to the school to help promote physical activity and overall personal health.
Since there isn’t a physical education class at the school, the equipment will be used for the wellness class — a hybrid course that encourages the students to participate in physical activity as well as educating them about healthy habits.
“When I was a kid I met a couple of the professional hockey players," Andersson said. "I met a couple that played in the NHL and a couple that played in the elite league in Sweden. Just to see them, you realize a couple of these kids maybe want to start playing hockey. That’d be a good thing for the sport.”
Now in its fifth year, the Red Wings School Assembly team has visited 357 local schools, reaching more than 150,000 students and providing 714 sets of equipment to physical education departments throughout southeastern Michigan. So far this season, the team has visited 36 schools and reached more than 16,000 students.
Nichole German, principal at Ann Visger Elementary, deemed it Red Wings Day at the school and students and faculty alike were sporting team jerseys, shirts and hats to help welcome Andersson and other members of the assembly team.
“We were very excited because our students really don’t have the opportunity to go out to different places because of economic circumstances,” German said. “We wanted to have someone from the Red Wings come out and just show them a good time and at least show them the hockey part of it because we want to expose them to things that they may not get that exposure to.”
In addition to the floor hockey equipment, the assembly team provided water bottles and shirts for students who volunteered to demonstrate during the assembly. Each student also went home with a Red Wings team folder as well as a message to eat healthy and stay active.
“I think they learned stuff, of course eating healthy food was one thing we tried to push on," Andersson said. "I think they learned a couple things there and respect for each other and for your teammates and for your opponents.”