REGINA -- Heros Hockey Education has launched a Regina chapter to provide opportunities for children from low-income families.

Thirty-six children were chosen to be a part of the free-of-charge program, which covers everything from equipment, to ice time.

“No Heros kid has ever paid a cent to play. It’s all provided by the community,” said Kevin Hodgson, Heros executive director.

Mason Pulongbait, a grade four student at Sacred Heart Community School, is a part of the program. He wants to become the next Connor McDavid, “because he’s an Oiler, and I was born (in) Edmonton.”

Pulongbait said he’s used to practicing in his back alley, but this equipment will help him, and his team, on the ice.

“And we can start getting better,” said Pulongbait.

The kids in the program are chosen based on their leadership skills at school.

“At the end of the day, we’re not looking to produce future Regina Pats players,” said Hodgson. “This is really about using what makes sport great, and giving the kids the confidence and self-esteem (to say), ‘Hey, I never thought I’d do this and look what happened. So, if I can do that, I can do anything.’”

The program doesn’t stop at the end of the season, either.

“We’ve had kids join our program in grade three or four in other cities. They’ve graduated high school as a part of our program, and then we support them with post-secondary bursaries,” Hodgson said.