Basketballs and dodgeballs collide as children hurry around the noisy gym looking to help their team captained by a Wranglers player to victory. At first glance, this trip looks like nothing more than time for hockey players to create chaos and memories for young school children, but there is a much more meaningful goal to these school visits.
The Amarillo Wranglers have become one of the over 50 learning partners with Window on a Wider World with hopes of educating the next generation on the importance of taking care of the pillars of health and wellness.
By teaming up with WOWW, the Wranglers are projected to reach over 3,500 students around the panhandle this year through their “Hockey For Health” visits, the annual kids game, and ice sports introduction program.
“We provide amazing programs to kids in the rural areas of the Panhandle. We have over 10,000 students that we serve,” WOWW Executive Director Catherine Meck says.
WOWW was created with the mission to expose the children of the Panhandle to programs featuring but not limited to arts and sciences that otherwise would not be accessible to many students. By providing these programs and experiences, the organization hopes to inspire the next generation to achieve great things.
“We have so many different programs that go beyond education, and they really are sparking the interest and creativity of students. We want to expose them to things that they wouldn’t normally get exposed to,” Mrs. Meck says.
Enter the Amarillo Hockey Association and the Wranglers using their unique position and resources to educate students about the importance of health and introduce them to a sport they don’t get to see very often.
” It’s a blast giving back to the community and getting to know these kids,” Defenseman Oliver Bezick says. “It is great teaching kids the importance of the pillars of health and wellness through sports, and being able to play with the kids is a lot of fun,” Bezick says.
One of the goals for Window on a Wider World is to give students access to different aspects of many cultures that might not be readily available where they live. Mrs. Meck acknowledges how having hockey players visit schools teach students more than just hockey.
” These players are 18-19 year-olds, and they got to this point by hard work, dedication, and being able to work as part of a team. The kids love hearing that and having that type of interaction,” Mrs. Meck says.
During one of the first school visits of the season, students met players, and staff introduced the students to players and staff from different states and two players from Canada. Although many children were perplexed by the word “Manitoba,” they quickly found out that Canada has provinces and that Manitoba is one of 10 provinces. This type of interaction can help expose students to different cultures.
” We want to expose the kids to different nationalities, to different cultures because it is very exciting for someone to meet someone from another country. That is rare for around here,” Mrs. Meck says.
The in-school visits arent just an exciting experience for the students, but they also give the players a chance to connect and even feel like they are back in school at recess.
” It’s an amazing experience coming out here and hanging out with the kids; it feels like I’m back at school,” Defenseman Johnny McCollum says. ” This is a good time for us because we don’t often get to do stuff like this; we are always at the rink playing, so this is a great opportunity,” McCollum says.
The Wranglers are just one of many learning partners with WOWW that provides the next generation of Texans with incredible experiences and memories. These partners hope to inspire the next generation to learn and create a bright future.
” These are future Texas citizens. I want them to be well rounded and to come up with the next greatest thing for the United States,” Mrs. Meck says.
As WOWW continues to make a big impact on students all around the Panhandle, they look to expand their reach, and that starts with their learning partners.
” We are always looking for new learning partners. If you have a talent, skill, or something that you think children would be interested in learning about, we will help you design the program.” Mrs. Meck says.
As for the Wranglers and their three different programs, they will continue to educate children on the importance of health and wellness, teach them about different cultures, and of course, expose and teach them to the game of hockey.
“We love the Wranglers because they have that exposure through three different programs,” Mrs. Meck says. ” When students get to go ice skating, they are on cloud nine… that is something they will never forget.”
- If you are interested in partnering with Window on a Wider World or want more information on their mission and programs, you can visit them via https://www.windowonawiderworld.org