Penticton NHLer Duncan Keith traded his hockey stick for a shovel at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony at the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.
The Chicago Blackhawks defenceman, with some help from his son Colton and two other hard-hat sporting kids, Aleigha and Foster, attired in their Wildstone safety vests, put shovels into the ground for the new, specially designed OSNS Play Court.
OSNS and Keith’s charity, Keith Relief, recently entered into a three-year partnership and the Play Court is the first of several planned projects to enhance the facility which assists families and children throughout the South Okanagan and Similkameen.
The partnership has a two-faceted schedule with some of the money also going to help families in financial crisis in the care of their children.
“It’s a pretty special opportunity and I feel it’s a huge honour to be able to be involved with the OSNS,” said Keith Thursday. “It’s about the kids, it’s about getting them the help and the guidance, all about the tools and the programming that they need to succeed in life.
“I can’t say enough about how happy and proud I am to be a small part of it and I see my son over there he’s been getting into the cookies already.”
When asked about the importance now of being a parent himself he replied: “Absolutely, it hits home a little more. It’s exciting to see my son’s going to taking part in school here as well.”
Keith first got involved with the centre in June and decided to help with funding after making several visits and seeing the work being done.
“They do a great job as it is already and why this has worked so well,” he said. “That’s why it’s such an honour and a privilege to be able to help out and see the children’s faces. I know my son is running around here having a ball.”
According to Chicago Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman Keith’s work with the centre comes as no surprise.
“Duncan’s donation to the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre in Penticton is an example of how committed he is to the children and their families in his hometown,” said Bowman. “The Chicago Blackhawks organization is proud of the positive impact he has made in British Columbia and across the Chicagoland community over the course of his professional hockey career.”
OSNS speech pathologist Shadi Asadi who works with the kids was also happy with the word of the partnership.
“Duncan Keith and his Keith Relief team have been able to give us access to this Play Court that will support children who are currently being served by our team and children who are about to be referred,” she said.
“We’re thrilled Duncan has taken such an interest in what we’re doing and the amount of children that we see every year. Obviously this is his way of giving back in his home town,” said OSNS chair Shannon Simpson in a previous interview. “He is all about helping families and helping children.”