By Darren Lum
Jan. 10 2017
When it comes to the Highlands there is nothing like a hockey game to bring our community together.
This year’s hockey games between the OPP and three of the county’s schools have greater meaning.
In the past the outreach hockey games have served to build positive relations with the students and communities. This year Const. Tim Negus community relations officer with the OPP said the local detachment is supporting the Push for Change initiative led and created by Joe Roberts a homeless teen who became a successful businessman.
Negus said Push for Change is a call to action to end child homelessness.
The hockey games are a great venue to show the children they are not alone with their challenges rather they are supported by peers the police and the community.
“I know oftentimes kids feel alone but they’re not. If they need the help we’re here to help them. Not just OPP but the whole community” he said.
Roberts has been raising awareness while on a cross-Canada walking tour pushing a grocery cart – symbolic of chronic homelessness. Although donations for Push for Change are welcome it is not the main thrust of the effort. Roberts’s journey started in St. John’s Nfld. on May 1 2016 and will cover 9000 kilometres over 517 days. It will end in Vancouver B.C. on Sept. 30 of this year. Roberts will average close to 24 kilometres a day visiting more than 400 communities sharing his story with the goal of ending youth homelessness.
“We want to bring a lot of awareness to youth homelessness; youth mental health issues and youth poverty” Negus said.
Negus said this awareness-raising effort will rely on the schools support and assistance but most importantly the students and their social media savvy to spread the word.
Donations for Push for Change can be made online through the website
However locally there are people that need help and can receive it from the area food banks or various other charitable causes Negus said. Before throwing anything out people should consider whether items can be reused. These items can be given to an agency to benefit others.
The father of three children – one finished college one in college and one in grade school – could not imagine if one of his own children were suffering.
“I wouldn’t want my own kids to be in that situation why would I want anybody else’s kids to be in that situation” he said.
Negus’ perspective is influenced by his experience as a constable but he feels a responsibility as a resident and citizen of Haliburton County.
Wilberforce hosts the first game at the Keith Tallman Memorial Arena between the OPP and Wilberforce Elementary School on Friday Feb. 10 at 1:40 p.m. followed by the second game in Minden featuring Archie Stouffer Elementary School at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena at 2 p.m. Haliburton will host the OPP team and J.D. Hodgson Elementary School at 1 p.m. on Friday March 3 at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton.
From the three game series a select group will be chosen to form an “all-star team” for the fourth game to bring together students their families and friends from all three schools to symbolize the unity and strength of the community. The game is scheduled for Thursday March 9 and will begin at 1 p.m. at the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton. A barbecue will follow and use proceeds to contribute to the Push for Change campaign and to the United Way.
“We’re not just Haliburton Minden and Wilberforce. We’re Haliburton County. We’re a collective group. That’s the only way we’re going to beat the issue is come together as one big community and support each other” Negus said. “It could really instill some motivation in people to help. It could also instill in kids that they’re really not alone.”