Interview with Hayley Wickenheiser Hockey Star!

Hayley Wickenheiser Right to Play

by Natasha Tsakiris

We recently had the chance to speak with Women’s Hockey Team Olympic Medalist Hayley about her work with Right To Play.
VG: Can you tell us about Right To Play
Hayley Wickenheiser: Sure, Right To Play is an organization that works in 23 countries around the world. Really, the objective of Right To Play is to foster growth and development in children through sport and play. It was created by Johann Olav Koss, who is an Olympic gold medalist speed skater. And it utilizes Athlete Ambassadors, Olympians and professional athletes from 40 different countries. Basically what they do, is they implement programs to help children learn things like protecting themselves from malaria and HIV Aids, as well as learning life lessons like trust, hygiene — just simple things we might take for granted here in Canada. They don’t offer equipment per se or any tangible things, but they help these kids learn life lessons through sport and play.
VG: How did you get involved with the organization? 
HW: I saw an advertisement from Right To Play at the Sydney Summer Games in 2000, in the Athlete’s Village, and I had heard a little bit about it. I knew Johann from the ’98 Olympics, when he was skating, so I signed up and I have been with them ever since.
VG: Can you tell us about your personal experiences as a Right To Play Athlete Ambassador? 
HW: I had an opportunity to go to Rwanda in 2007 with three other Olympians.  We were paired with the volunteers and coaches that train in Rwanda, and then went into orphanages and schools. We watched how they learned these life lessons and we also conducted our own games and played with them so we could see how the whole program works. For me, it reinforced that Right To Play does work, and that the money raised is actually going to where it should be.
VG: What advice do you have for young women trying to succeed in any sport, and trying to reach their goals?
HW: Well, I think you want to have a plan for yourself, maybe write down what your goals are and what you want to achieve and then work backwards from there. It’s helpful to know where you’re going so you can figure out how you’re going to get there. Just stick to the plan you make for yourself because there will be a lot of times when you’ll get discouraged and it will seem really hard. You have to be creative at times and find ways to keep yourself motivated to get there.

Click here to read Vervegirl’s story about Right to Play.

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