SuperHEROS Adapted Hockey-Winnipeg Launch

Posted in: MDSS Announcements

We are very excited to be launching our newest SuperHEROS Adapted Hockey program in Winnipeg
in November of 2022. With programs already in place in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Surrey,
and new programs also starting this season in Saskatoon and Red Deer / Blackfalds, this will bring to
the 9 the total number of teams that will wear the SuperHEROS jersey this season.

What is HEROS?
The Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) is a federally registered charity that began
operating in 2000. Since then, more than 17,000 players have taken part in HEROS programming
across Canada. For the first 18 years of our existence, our sole focus was providing access to hockey
based mentorship programming in neighbourhoods where families encounter significant financial and
social barriers to sport across Canada. There are currently 21 HEROS programs spread across the
country from Vancouver Island to Quebec, as well as a program in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In early 2018, we discovered that there was an absence of programming available for young people
living with disabilities in Western Canada, and felt we could possibly address that gap. We quickly
convened advisory groups, sought funding, and in time for the 2018/19 hockey season, SuperHEROS
launched as a pilot program in Calgary.

What is SuperHEROS?
SuperHEROS is an adapted hockey program expressly designed for aspiring players ages 7-17, living
with physical and/or cognitive challenges that otherwise would prevent them from playing hockey or
even other team sports. We call it adapted hockey because we tailor our approach to meet the group
needs as well as the individual needs of the players in our program.
We truly believe that disability need not be a barrier for a child who wants to play the game. While
many of our current players live with cognitive challenges such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down
Syndrome, and Fragile X, we are also able to provide access to hockey for players living with physical
barriers such as Cerebral Palsy, auto immune deficiencies, gross and fine motor delays, and the like.
We have also have a number of players who live with very unique diagnoses and combinations of
diagnoses that have made it difficult for families to find safe and accepting team sport environments.
We utilize a high coach to player ratio (2 players to 1 volunteer) that allows our players to receive a
high level of individual support. Our ice times do not look like organized hockey programming might –
we use everything from stuffed animals and light weight pucks (for players with strength or sensory
challenges) to specialized equipment like stand up wheel chairs and Kaye Trainers for players who
require physical assistance to participate.

Our ice times are less structured than a typical community hockey team might take part in. A
combination of games and larger group drills and individual opportunities to develop skills and
interests allows our players to take part with their teammates while also helping to develop their sense
of self-determination and self advocacy. You may see a group of players working on their passing at
one end of the ice in a fairly typical looking hockey drill, while elsewhere a player is skating along the
boards using visual cues (like stickers) on the boards as they work on their confidence, balance and
leg strength. At the same time, s coach is helping a player in a stand up wheelchair move around the
ice and visit their teammates and experience being one the ice.
What it is not is a hockey development program. Part of the evolution of the experience is for our
SuperHEROS to play friendly games against hockey teams in the community. However, we are not
looking to create a competitive environment, or enter teams into an existing league. We believe that
the disability community has long been excluded form the hockey community, seen only in roles
behind the glass, because they have been expected to adapt to meet the traditional hockey structure.
We want to adapt the game to meet the players where they are at so that they can proudly call
themselves hockey players. We want to provide a long-term safe community for our players where
they can develop a sense of confidence in their identity as hockey players and as people. Our
success measurements are not on ice but in how it impacts the player, and their family’s life off
the ice.

Who will coach my SuperHERO?
All of our programs are volunteer run. As we developed our program, our advisory groups encouraged
us to find a balance between people with experience in the disability field and those without. Simply
put, we look to find the very best mix of great people bringing a range of professional and life
experiences who at the end of the day share our values of inclusion, acceptance, compassion, and
belief in the power of sport. All of our volunteers undergo Criminal Record Checks, and throughout
partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart complete training that includes Coaching All Abilities.
Our coaching approach centres around the idea that you get to know the player first, and worry about
the hockey player second. Rather than a lot of theoretical knowledge about Down Syndrome, we ask
our volunteers to learn what living with Down Syndrome means for each of our players and their
families (because it will look different in each circumstance).
A core group of volunteers who attend every week (consistency and predictability are so key for our
players as we have learned) are augmented by a rotating group of players from University hockey
teams as well as other teams from who assist each week providing direct interaction with other hockey
players that share the love of the game with our SuperHEROS
SuperHEROS Winnipeg

  • SuperHEROS Winnipeg will take place every Saturday morning throughout the hockey season. It is
    not a drop-in program, rather we are looking for players and families who will commit to being part of
    our team and community
  • Players registered at the start of the season will be provided with their first set of gear in an
    equipment fitting night prior to the start of our season. Families who register after that date will be
    responsible for providing their own gear, as well as when players outgrow their gear.
  • This is intended to be their team for as long as they wish to play. Players must be between the ages of 7 & 17 to register for the first time, but can remain as long as they wish (including into adulthood)
  • SuperHEROS is free of charge to take part in. We know that disabilities touch every type of family, in
    every financial situation. We also know that raising children with disabilities has many hidden or
    unpredictable costs. To that end, we work diligently to find funding to allow us to charge no fees. In
    Saskatchewan, this funding comes from The Platinum Jets, S.S Invitational Golf Tournament, St
    James U13 Canucks (Good Deeds Cup) and Canadian Tire Jumpstart. We do ask families to
    consider donating to HEROS if they can, to help us grow our number of programs and the number of kids we can impact, but it is not mandatory for your child to take part.

How do I get involved?
Volunteer – if you would like to volunteer you can apply to volunteer directly on our website or by
following the link here If you require more information please
connect with
Volunteers must be 18 or older and willing to complete a volunteer application, a Criminal Record
Check, and 8 hours of online training
Our SuperHEROS players are the most successful when they are surrounded by a core group of
consistent and predictable faces. As a result, we are looking for people who can attend a minimum of
80% of the weekly sessions
The type of person you are is more important than how experienced you are as a hockey coach. If you
are kind, compassionate, patient and love working as part of a team (other volunteers as well as
players families) and believe in the power of sport to impact young people in a meaningful way then
SuperHEROS might a great fit for you.
SuperHEROS Player – players must be between the ages of 7 & 17 to register, and the maximum
group size is 24 players. They must live with a cognitive and/or physical challenge that prevents them
from taking part in organized hockey otherwise. Program is open to players from Winnipeg and the
surrounding areas.To get more information or to register your player, please contact our Executive
Director Kevin Hodgson at

Please Find the official INFO SHEET below!

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