|B.C. Lions offensive lineman Jon Hameister-Ries gets some help from Grade 5 student Gurman Toor during a FortisBC Energy Champions presentation Wednesday at Parkway Elementary School in Penticton. The program is designed to educate young people about energy conservation efforts.|
Offensive lineman Jon Hameister-Ries and linebacker/special teams member Jason Arakgi are in the South Okanagan to help promote FortisBC’s Energy Champions program.
Commenting prior to a presentation Wednesday at Parkway Elementary, Arakgi said they like to make their presentation high-energy, fun and interactive with the kids, so it leaves them with a positive impression.
Arakgi said this may, in a small way, contribute towards increased energy conservation awareness among young people.
"Turning off the lights is not going to save the world, but it's a good habit to get into Ð just being conscious of saving energy," he said.
Arakgi, a Toronto native who now resides year-round in Vancouver, said he and other team members really enjoy getting out to various communities around the province during the off-season.
"It's nice to do something other than football and to give back in a way," he said. "Every school is different and kindergartens are great. Every time they see you, they think you could be Superman."
Kelly Jones, principal at Parkway, said this marked the first time the B.C. Lions have come to the school as part of a Fortis presentation.
Jones noted the Energy Champions presentation fits in perfectly with the school's energy conservation unit.
"We do this every year, whether it's Fortis or some local people who come in and do presentations with us," he said.
The players also visited Carmi and Wiltse elementary schools Wednesday and will stop by West Bench, Columbia and GiantÍs Head today. They made a presentation at Okanagan Falls Elementary School on Tuesday.
In 2012, the Energy Champions initiative visited 75 elementary schools throughout the province, inspiring more than 22,000 students to play an active role in reducing their environmental footprint.
Meanwhile, Arakgi described the Lions' recent trade of star receiver Geroy Simon to Saskatchewan as part of the business side of football, but admitted the future CFL Hall-of-Famer will be missed.
"He was a great guy in the locker room. You can't replace a guy like Geroy," he said.
Still, Arakgi said, when the Lions take on the Riders this season it will be extra-special.
"My defensive back time is limited but I was kind of imagining if he came across, do I take it soft? I'm not sure," he said with a laugh.
"But Geroy's a competitor, so even if I hit him hard, he'd get up and smile at me and walk away."