USA Hockey Magazine

August 2019

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PROTEC T, SERVE AND ockey bonds family, friends a n d t e a m m a t e s t o g et h e r. It also builds a bridge con- necting the Chicago Police Hockey Club and the inner- city youth they meet through the Blackhawks' fan development and outreach programs. "Absolutely," said Joe Barrera, club pres- ident and detective with the Chicago Police Department. "Children reach out to say thank you and show how appreciative they are. It's a positive experience, which hopefully they remember for the rest of their lives." Barrera wanted to expand the group's reach while soothing relations between the police and community. Three years ago, he approached the Blackhawks and the idea "was met with nothing but enthusiasm." The pairing gives the police an opportunity to interact with grade school students while enhancing the Blackhawks' Get Out And Learn (G.O.A.L.) offerings. The volunteers are not officially affiliated with CPD. "It seemed like a perfect fit. They already have the clinics to teach it. It was just so seamless for us to go out and assist them," Barrera said. "And kids remember us. 'Officer Joe look how much better I got.' It's been a great expe- rience for us and for the Blackhawks." Following the clinic, each school receives new equipment so physical education teach- ers can add the curriculum for additional students and future lessons. This includes 3 0 B l a c k h aw k s st r e et h o c ke y st i c k s, 3 0 h o c ke y b a l l s a n d t w o n et s. Pa r t i c i p a n t s also become eligible for a free First Stride (learn-to-skate) program at the franchise's practice facility. A b o u t 9 0,0 0 0 C h i c a g o s t u d e n t s w e r e i n t r o d u c e d t o h o c k e y d u r i n g t h e 2 0 1 7- 18 season by those programs. It's a team effort that the Blackhawks are happy to be a part of. "Not only do they help coach and engage with the kids, but their involvement pro- vides the opportunity for Chicago youth to interact with officers in a positive environ- ment," said Annie Camins, the Blackhawks senior director of fan development. 14 // AUGUST 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM H Chicago Police Use Hockey To Show They're On The Same Team As Inner City Youth By Joe Paisley "Seeing us playing and laughing humanizes us and also promotes the game of hockey. We have a great time while building bridges in our community." —Joe Barrera, Chicago Police Department detective

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