Early this morning, Bobcats players Noah Bauld, Cole Josefchak, Evan Tschumi, and Troy Van Tetering traveled to Vancouver with a pair of local RCMP officers to see the struggles that many residents face in the heart of downtown.
The initiative, titled Project Keep Straight, is meant to provide the players with an education on drugs and crime by getting to meet people who have found themselves in the streets due to addiction. Upon returning to Lloydminster, the Bobcats will share their experiences with schools in the community in an effort to spread awareness of the places that drugs can take you.
Prior to leaving town, the four players were uncertain of what they were about to encounter.
Q: What do you know already about Project Keep Straight?
Troy Van Tetering: “Not a whole lot right now, I just know that we get to go down and see a few things that we wouldn’t normally see here in Lloydminster, get to experience a few things, and be able to relay that back to the kids here.”
Cole Josefchak: “I’m really not sure what to expect, but it will be a great experience and I’m excited to bring it back to the community.”
Evan Tschumi: “I know that we're going down to East Hastings, a rougher part of Vancouver. It will definitely be a good experience, and I'm very honoured to be chosen to come.”
Noah Bauld: “I think it will be a great opportunity to see the community down there and what goes on in the drug world. I think it should be very interesting”
Q: Have you ever seen East Hastings Street, or anything like it?
CJ: “I've only been to Vancouver just kind of in the city, I've seen a bit of the homeless population but nothing like what we're going to experience.”
ET: “I've driven through that area before, but I've never gotten out and been face to face with some of the people in that street. It can be a pretty scary place, I mean there are hundreds, or thousands of people on the street it looks like, so it seems like a dangerous place, pretty busy, so it will be a very eye-opening experience once I get out on the ground down there.”
NB: “Not quite, I've driven through a couple different towns, but I've never experienced anything like this first hand so I'm looking forward to it.”
Q: When you come back, you'll be able to share your experiences with kids in school here in Lloydminster. What kind of impact do you think that will have?
TVT: “I think it's going to be huge. With the documentary they're gonna put together and us seeing it first hand, being able to tell everybody what we saw, it's going to be great for the community.”
ET: “With Lloydminster growing as a city, more and more of these problems could arise. I think it's important to get out and tell these kids what life can throw at you. It's going to be eye-opening enough for us, but for them as well in the classroom I think it's good to spread awareness of what could happen if you're not careful.”
NB: “I think it will be very important, because in today's world drugs are a huge problem. I think it will be very important to educate kids on things like this and what can go wrong.”
The players were also accompanied by Newcap Television’s Bart Padjasek, who will be putting together a documentary from the trip to share their experience. Watch for updates in the coming weeks.
Thank you to Fountain Tire, Devon Canada, and the Rotary Club for sponsoring the initiative.