The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation announced earlier today that they are partnering with Sun Life until the end of the 2021-22 season to activate and expand its introductory ball hockey program in schools across Quebec. Built for 3rd– and 4th-grade students in communities where BLEU BLANC BOUGE outdoor rinks have been built, this program has, since its creation in 2016, aimed to teach underprivileged youth the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle through ball hockey activities.
Sun Life serves as the presenting sponsor of the Foundation’s BLEU BLANC BOUGE Ball Hockey Program, representing a financial contribution of $450,000 over three years. The support provided by Sun Life will help implement the program in six regions in the province, namely in Montreal, Laval and Montérégie initially, and then in Estrie, Lanaudière and Mauricie. Sessions will now be deployed in the fall, winter and spring seasons in 11 communities throughout the province, allowing more than 1,900 children to learn the fundamentals of ball hockey and develop new motor and social skills through June 2022.
“The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation is proud to work with a partner like Sun Life, who firmly believes in the benefits of physical activity and of a healthy lifestyle,” said Geoff Molson, owner, president and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens and member of the Foundation’s board. “Thanks to their support and generosity, we are able to offer the children of our BLEU BLANC BOUGE communities an active, fun and educational program, which will eventually grow to reach hundreds of children across Quebec.”
Thanks to this initiative, 517 youngsters from the Greater Montreal area took part in this six-week health and well-being program this past fall. Each of the nine participating schools also received a complete set of ball hockey equipment, including hockey sticks, goalie equipment, nets, balls and eye protection. As a result of this donation, schools will be able to pursue their own programs moving forward, making it possible for students from every grade to benefit from it.
A new health-related theme is introduced at each program session, allowing children to discuss a variety of topics such as nutrition, physical activity, sleep and relaxation. An activity book on healthy lifestyles is also provided to all participating children to reinforce what they’ve learned and further deepen their knowledge on these subjects in class, inspiring them to take concrete actions to improve their physical and mental health on a daily basis.
With this new partnership with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, Sun Life reaffirms their commitment to supporting prevention and awareness programs focused on health and wellness, with the goal of fostering healthier, sustainable communities. By focusing on teamwork and fun, the program aims to equip youth in underserved communities with essential tools and life skills to help encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices and live a fuller, more active life, thus protecting them against diabetes and other chronic diseases.
“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the extraordinary work of our community foundations and agencies. And a program like BLEU BLANC BOUGE is more relevant than ever now that health has become everyone’s priority! This initiative aligns with our commitment to give people the tools they need to take charge of their health. I’m pleased that our support for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation has given children a chance to be active and learn about healthy habits. After months of being kept home, the few hours the children spent with the trainers couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Robert Dumas, president and chief executive officer of Sun Life Quebec.
Being overweight, obese, or having a sedentary lifestyle are key risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, disproportionately affects socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, as well as certain ethnic communities. Statistics also show children from low-income families or from visible minority groups are less physically active than other youth their age, being three times more likely to have never participated in organized sports. However, it has been proven that with exercise and a good diet, it is possible to prevent and even reverse a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.