On any given day when you drive through the streets of Philadelphia, you may observe children shooting hoops or playing catch. However, it is rare to see inner city students playing ice hockey. Traditionally, ice hockey has not been very accessible because of the expense of the equipment and the need for a specific facility. The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is working to change that reality and bring the sport to more inner city children for free. When a new ice rink opened near Smedley Elementary last year, a successful partnership was born.
While some after school clubs only meet weekly and during one season, Snider Hockey really stands out for the quality of their program. From October through June, Smedley K-8 boys and girls meet three times a week for 2 hours each day. Last year, in its first year of the partnership, over 50 students participated and they went from learning the basics of skating to suiting up in full uniform and playing in a hockey game. In addition to all of the free hockey equipment and coaching, Snider Hockey staff provide tutoring, mentoring and life skills training.
While offering hockey is nice for students, Snider Hockey’s commitment to the students is what really solidified the partnership. Snider Hockey staff is required to keep in touch with the students’ teachers to make sure that students stay on track academically. Students are encouraged to come to the rink as often as possible and welcomed to stay as long as they would like. The relationship between Smedley teachers and Snider Hockey staff presents students with a unified message that hockey is fun, but education is really important.
All of these components combine for a wonderful and thriving partnership and Snider Hockey has more students from Smedley than from any other school in the region.
This year, Smedley and Snider Hockey are looking to expand the participation to include even more students. Who knows, one day we might just be cheering on a Mastery Charter Schools’ Philadelphia Flyer.