WJHA helps youth manage change in their lives, while also giving them the power to change

February 9, 2022 11:11 am by Jason Friesen Dynamic Featured Image

Change is at times the only constant in a kid’s life. It’s a time of life when not only are you growing, but you’re regularly changing grades, teachers, schools, and interests. Just because change is constant doesn’t make it any easier though.

For Tashina, a Grade 10 Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) student who has now been with the program for eight years, just joining the WJHA program was nerve-racking.

“I was going into these new places as a little girl, not knowing why I needed all the heavy and smelly equipment and not even knowing how any of it was supposed to go on,” said Tashina of her initial experiences with the program. “The drills were so difficult, and I didn’t understand what (WJHA Director) Murray (Cobb) was telling us to do.”

Quickly though, Tashina got familiar and comfortable with being on the ice.

“Now looking back, I know that Murray was only just showing us the basics of how to play hockey. I can do those drills very easily now that I am better at skating.”

Getting comfortable at the WJHA has helped her beyond the walls of the True North Youth Foundation (TNYF). Tashina moved schools while in elementary, and the familiarity of the WJHA and having the people she trusts there to support her made the transition much more manageable.

“For a while after moving from my old school to a new school, I was pretty sad and scared because I didn’t know anyone, and it was a huge difference because my new school was tiny compared to my old one. I was also pretty scared of change. The positive energy through the WJHA made it a little easier and better for me.”

Another change that comes for youth is learning to take on more responsibility as they get older. Teachers expect more of them in school, which often means more homework. Tashina’s mother Barb has seen how the WJHA has positively impacted her ability to balance her many activities and responsibilities, and helped her learn to ask for help with those things when she needs it.

“The WJHA really helped Tashina learn to juggle school, after-school programs, hockey, friends, family, and even manage her feelings when she had to miss an activity. It’s taught her about sacrifices, even at a young age,” said Barb. “Homework seemed overwhelming for her until she started asking tutors for more support. Opening up was hard to do, but she loves hockey and learned that it’s not only hockey that she can ask about at the WJHA.”

From her eight years in the program, perhaps that is the biggest lesson Tashina has taken away – change is not just something that happens to us, but something we can take control of. She has the power to change and improve her hockey skills by putting in time and effort on the ice, and equally has the power to change her grades at school by investing herself in her homework.

“Ever since I started skating, my confidence level and skill level have gone up drastically on and off the ice,” noted Tashina. “When it came to tutoring, the times that I have gone were all extremely helpful. I noticed that my marks have gone up a lot, and I’m sure the WJHA has a lot to do with that.

“Being in the WJHA has given me a lot of opportunities and different choices. I am very thankful I had the chance to join the WJHA when I did.”