Cody Jamieson and Craig Point were at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre this week to hand out free lacrosse sticks to indigenous youth.
The sticks were donated by Arrow Express Sports (AES) as a part of ‘Walk With Me’; a new initiative looking to connect dis-engaged First Nations youth with their sporting culture.
AES is a Six Nations based company that owns and operates the back-to-back world Champion Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League and the Hamilton Nationals of the Major League Lacrosse.
The aim of the program is an ambitious one: to provide every indigenous child in Canada with a free lacrosse stick and a chance to learn the game from some of its most successful players.
Arrow Express Sports owner Curt Styres wants to keep developing the sport of Lacrosse, a sport that he loves and that he has seen change so many young First Nations lives for the better. “I just want to get a stick into every child’s hands that I can.” says Styres.
Event facilitator Nick Rothwell said, “Everyone we work with from the parents to the player to the people who work in the office, everybody wants to work together to save kid’s lives. What is the program about? It’s about saving kid’s lives and using lacrosse as a hook into getting them re-engaged with their culture and to give them pride in who they are.”
Along with providing equipment and knowledge about the sport, the program is working to promote a healthy lifestyle among the youth. “We have been working to get sticks to kids that need some re-engagement with their culture and we feel lacrosse is the perfect way to do that,” says Rothwell. “At the moment the sticks are donated.
Under Armor are making the sticks. It’s such a cool and dynamic sport, especially now the way it’s played with box lacrosse anybody who watches it gets hooked right away.
Many First Nations children who are watching it don’t know that it’s their game. So if they go ‘whoa, Cody Jamieson is a Mohawk’, and they feel like they belong to something.”
Rochester Lacrosse player Craig Point was also there to play a short game with the youth who were given sticks, who might otherwise not have a connection to the game. “We wanted to give them a lacrosse stick and show them what the game is all about, how fast it is and how active you can be.”
The organization is working toward a charitable status and has big hopes for taking the program from coast to coast in 2014.
They will also work to connect the youth in the program with accomplished athletes and coaches to offer advice and build the participants self-confidence. For more information and details about the program check out the website at www.walkwithus.org