FLINT, MI – Registration for the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program is open now until all 30 program spots are filled.
The program, which has been around since 2010 when it was started by retired Flint firefighter Rico Phillips, introduces ice hockey and ice skating to Flint youth ages 8 to 11.
“My goal with the program is to give kids an experience like they’ve never had before,” Phillips told MLive-The Flint Journal on Tuesday, Dec. 28. “The reason it is specifically aimed at children in the town of Flint is that the recreational opportunities are so limited.
Related: Flint Inner City Youth Hockey Program Introduces Kids to Sports at Perani Arena
Phillips won the National Hockey League’s 2019 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award in recognition of the program. O’Ree was the first black player in NHL history.
The O’Ree Award is presented annually “to an individual who, through hockey, has made a positive impact on their community, culture or society,” according to the NHL website.
Phillips was appointed Director of Cultural Adversity and Inclusion for the Ontario Hockey League in July 2020.
He played high school hockey at the Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, began umpiring games in the 1980s, and still plays in the men’s leagues, Journal records show.
Related: Flint Firefighter Rico Phillips Wins NHL Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
“There is no doubt that the biggest challenge facing hockey and sports, at all levels, is making sure the game is inclusive,” Phillips said in a statement after being appointed to the role of the Ontario League. “I believe the key to achieving this is to work hard to eradicate racism and ensure an environment free from discrimination.
The Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey program will run from Jan.8 to March 26, for approximately 10 weeks, Phillips said.
Those interested can register on the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program website here.
The program provides ice lessons, equipment and even transportation for free.
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