This week was not only the kickoff to the hockey season—with Edmonton’s home opener between the Oilers and the Flames on Wednesday—but also the kickoff to a very special program co-founded by Chloe and Harrison Katz: Hockey Helps Kids.

Hockey Helps Kids is a fun and innovative charity competition which brings together local schools, charities and the Edmonton Oilers to raise awareness and funds for a variety of local non-profit organizations.

The Mental Health Foundation is excited to announce that we will be working with one of the five schools involved—D.S. Mackenzie Junior High—as they drive awareness for mental health and raise money for mental health programs in Edmonton alongside the Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl.

We had a lot of fun during the selection process learning about what made the kids at D.S. Mackenzie so passionate about their community. But what particularly stuck out to us was how they arrived at their decision to support mental health.

Following a heated debate over who they currently felt could most use the support from this program, a fellow student stood up and shared his own mental health journey. This solidified the choice in their minds and they stepped up to support their classmate.

One of the most important conversations we can have is this conversation about mental health. We are inspired by these junior high kids’ desire to make mental health a priority; it is only by having these conversations early and often that we can make a shift in how we address mental illness in the community and start building resiliency in our youth.

Watch out for #TeamDrai this hockey season!