Hockey Canada

The First Shift, Learn-to-Play Hockey Program

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The First Shift – a learn-to-play hockey program for kids aged 6-10.

The First Shift is coming to communities across Canada beginning this week brought to you by Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada.

Innovative national program makes it easy for families to try hockey.

“In partnership with Hockey Canada, we’ve built a proven model that has already welcomed thousands of new families to our game,” said Mary-Kay Messier, who leads the program as Bauer Hockey’s senior director of strategic brand initiatives and partnerships.  “The First Shift is designed to make it easier for families to try hockey. We provide a welcoming environment, make it fun for the kids and take away the risk for the parents by offering a program that is affordable, manageable and convenient.”

 

With an emphasis on fun, The First Shift allows kids ages 6-10 to easily try hockey for $199, which includes enrollment for a six-week, on-ice curriculum and head-to-toe BAUER equipment that each child can keep.  The initiative began in 2012 with four pilot programs in Ontario and Nova Scotia, expanded the following year to 40 programs, and continues to grow in the 2015-16 hockey season, with registration open for the winter session in the following communities:

Brampton, Ont. Ottawa, Ont. Napierville, Que. Edmonton, Alta.
Laval, Que. L’Île Perrot, Que. Golden, B.C. Montreal, Que.
Calgary, Alta. Lotbinière, Que. Quebec, Que. Brandon, Man.
Portage La Prairie, Alta. Amherst, N.S. Winnipeg, Man. Mississauga, Ont.
Mirabel, Que. Richmond, B.C. St. Albert, Alta.  

 

“Our goal is to create an exceptional first experience for the entire family,” said Messier.  “We create a welcoming environment, provide important education and expertly fit the kids with equipment so the parents feel comfortable their kids are safe.  The results and feedback from parents show we’ve been successful.”

Based on surveys of families and parents whose children participated in The First Shift, 86 per cent of First Shift participants re-enroll into hockey in the First Shift Transition program, 100 per cent of parents said their kids had fun, and 100 per cent of parents would recommend the program to a friend.

“Families should really know about this program and what a positive start to the sport it gives to a child. Without this kind of program, my son would have missed out on a really great opportunity,” said Michelle Vanderhaeghe, whose son participated in the fall 2015 session of The First Shift in Calgary, and whose daughter declared she wanted to join too while attending the welcome event with her brother. “We are honestly so impressed at how organized everything was; we have so much appreciation for all of the volunteers, and Hockey Canada and Bauer, who make something like this possible.”

Vanderhaeghe’s family has committed to passing along the outgrown equipment to younger players as their children progress through the game.

“Hockey Canada wants to see more Canadians enjoying the many benefits of hockey – from its ability to support healthy, active lifestyles, to its inherent social outlet and the many life-skills learned from playing in a team environment. Working with Bauer Hockey, The First Shift was developed to specifically meet the needs of those families who are new to hockey and want a fun way for their children to first experience the game,” said Paul Carson, vice-president of membership development at Hockey Canada. “The experience Ms. Vanderhaeghe describes is exactly what we’re looking to foster in rinks from coast-to-coast-to-coast.”

New-to-hockey families can register their children today at www.TheFirstShift.ca.  Registered kids will participate in a welcome event where they are fitted for and receive their BAUER equipment.  Each local program is administered by local minor hockey associations in partnership with Bauer Hockey and Hockey Canada.

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