Hockey and health care bring people together in communities across Canada.
For 11 days, the hockey world comes together to celebrate the game’s
brightest under-20 stars at the IIHF World Junior Championship. This year,
after a one-year absence, fans will get to experience it live in Edmonton
and Red Deer, Alta.
Part of that experience is not only watching great talent, but also
supporting the communities through hospitality and fundraising efforts.
Last year, more than $38 million was raised in 50/50 draws at the World
Juniors. This year, the hope is to generate more funds for grassroots
hockey and local organizations.
The first draw in Alberta, running from Dec. 17-23, will see funds go
towards the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit (CAMH) at the Royal
Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, which provides both urgent in-patient care
and follow-up treatment for children and youth aged five to 18 years old.
“For us, we see the relationship between physical activity and health,”
says Karina Dixon, executive director of the Royal Alexandra Hospital
Foundation (RAHF). “We wanted to partner with an organization like Hockey
Canada, who has a big commitment to supporting physical activity, child,
and adult mental health. We saw that linkage and we thought it was a great
opportunity for us to start a partnership.”
Dixon and the RAHF reached out to Riley Wiwchar, executive director of the
2022 IIHF World Juniors Championship last spring and the planning commenced
on this partnership.
“They are such a key hospital in Edmonton and the surrounding areas. A lot
of people go through that hospital,” says Wiwchar. “They’ve just had such a
nice local connection in terms of where their funding goes. We were looking
at trying to expand the reach of where our funds go, outside of hockey. It
just seemed like a good fit.”
The CAMH unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital provides compassionate acute
care services to patients in central and northern Alberta, stretching into
the Northwest Territories as well. The staff provide trauma-informed,
family-centred care for children and youth who require emergency care,
crisis stabilization, assessment, and short- and long-term treatment.
“We know that mental health affects everyone,” says Dixon. “Kids just need
that extra support, and there are so many needs within that program and
within that unit that these dollars will have a such a significant impact.”
Over 400 families access the CAMH unit each year and that number is
growing. Mental health conditions have increased due to the COVID-19
pandemic and the unit is need of support. The funds raised through the
50/50 draw will go toward improving the program and items the teens and
kids can use while at the facility.
“It will go towards fulfilling what they do in their programs and making
sure there are no shortages in how they help the kids that need it most,”
says Dixon. “We are proud to partner with Hockey Canada through this 50/50
and we are really grateful for all the people who end up purchasing tickets
and supporting this program at the Royal Alex.”
There will be nine different 50/50 draws over the course of the tournament,
which opens on Boxing Day. All proceeds from the draws will stay in the
provinces where tickets are bought, supporting local communities.
“This is just another great opportunity for us to give back,” says Wiwchar.
“We encourage people to get their tickets online, as all proceeds go back
into the community.”