BC Lions football players Jason Arakgi and Jon Hameister-Reis put smiles on the faces of hundreds of local children when they visited three elementary schools in the South Cariboo on April 4.
The cheering students who packed the gym at 100 Mile Elementary School expressed their glee at meeting the high-calibre players.
Grey Cup champions Arakgi and Hameister-Reis are travelling the province with the FortisBC Energy Champions program, using their sports-hero status as an effective segue for connecting with children and youth to mentor them on important issues.
Arakgi says he has been involved with the FortisBC tour for about four years, where six BC Lions players travel in pairs to visit 80 schools in the province, about half of which are situated outside the Lower Mainland.
“We tie in being champions on the field and also being champions off the field, and part of that is teaching kids how to be more energy efficient.”
It’s a good way for the players in the program to get out in the community, he notes, and use the fact they are athletes talk to youth in a meaningful way.
“I’m only going to be able to have kids listen to what I want to say for so long while I’m playing football. I think it’s important for [us] guys to take advantage of that to set a good example.”
Hameister-Reis says the hands-on program is like a pep rally.
“It gets everyone excited about energy. We play some games, we do some challenges, and it’s more of a fun thing for kids to learn about energy.”
While he participates in various BC Lions student programs, Hameister-Reis explains the FortisBC Energy Champions program is “the most fun” and delivered in a less serious manner than some messages the players carry to youth in the province.
The lucky students at Mile 108 and Buffalo Creek elementary schools also had the chance to participate in the program and meet the Grey Cup champions.