Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Atom squad in position to win $10K

Fort Garry hockey team leading education contest

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ONE atom alone may not be able to make education and hockey affordable for Canadian kids, but a team of them could.

The Fort Garry North 10A1 White hockey team -- that's the atom age group -- is the leading vote-getter in Beyond the Blue Line, a contest sponsored by the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation.

The top prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the idea deemed to best improve the financial wherewithal of Canadian families to be able to put their children in extracurricular activities while also saving for their post-secondary education.

Michael Nelson, the Fort Garry squad's manager, said they all brainstormed and came up with a website concept, gearhoarder.ca, that would enable parents to sell used equipment but rather than the payment being deposited into a bank account, it would go into their children's registered education savings plans (RESPs).

Nothing is up and running yet but Nelson said a few of the parents would like to start it up and eventually have a professional webmaster take it over from them. The hope is it could be sustained through advertising but ultimately operate as a non-profit.

Nelson said the site would service all of Canada as affordability for sports and education is a national challenge.

Peter Lewis, vice-president of regulatory and corporate affairs with CSTF, a Toronto-based provider of RESPs, said the idea behind the contest was to convince people to look at their financial priorities and how they're preparing their children for success.

"A post-secondary education is one of the best ways to set your kids up. Hockey is important but it's also important that you're not sacrificing their future education by putting too many resources into extra-curricular activities," he said.

Nelson said it's "borderline ridiculous" what parents spend on their children's hockey but that money could also guarantee a good education for them.

"It's tough to balance the two. We thought if you could do both, that would be a great concept," he said.

There are two other finalists in the contest, one in Montreal and one in Vancouver. The winner is expected to be announced in the next couple of days.

Nelson said the team has decided if they're the successful group, they'd like to donate $3,000 of the prize to the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, which provides a fun environment for underprivileged youth to learn the game of hockey.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2014 B1

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