Preston is nine years old and loves to be a teacher’s helper.
In school, he helps to set up and organize activities for school programs and exercises.
Connor started playing hockey this year and has become an excellent skater in a very short time, already blending in with the rest of the team after only 10 ice times.
Corbin likes to give back through his volunteer work. This year, he used his allowance to buy 50 pairs of socks, five sleeping bags and seven blankets for the homeless.
These are examples of some of the kids who have been nominated for — and won — a YELL Award.
The YELL Awards support youth who demonstrate excellence, leadership and loyalty — and it’s an idea that started with Drake Smith, owner of Drake Cremation & Funeral Services.
Smith has been a Kamloops Blazers season ticket holder for years, which is why he brought the idea to Jim Choppen, account executive for the Blazers, and Don Moores, the club’s president and COO.
“I look around the arena and I see lots of kids there,” Smith said. “I just thought, how can we encourage kids to do good things? How can we encourage them to take the focus maybe off themselves?”
Children can be nominated for all kinds of good work they might do either in their community or for their family.
It can be as simple as improving their grades in school or as challenging as developing an after-school reading program.
Smith said parents appreciate how the award can help reinforce good attitudes and behaviour.
“I talk with the parents a lot,” he said, “They talk about how excited their child is. So I’m hearing a lot of really good things from the parents or the family members.”
Recipients of the award receive two complimentary tickets to a Blazers home game (with additional tickets available at a discount), recognition on the video screen during the game, recognition on social media on game day and a commemorative puck featured in a display case.
Though the award has been a success, Choppen said word of the program needs to be spread further.
“It’s starting to gain momentum,” he said. “It’s just recognizing youth. It’s so unfortunate that they don’t get recognized. There’s a lot of great kids out there.”
Nomination forms are available at all Blazers home games and can also be found online at www.drakecremation.com/yell-award/ or blazerhockey.com/yell-award.
Youth who are nominated must be between six and 16 years of age.