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Small Town, Big Sky Series Profiles Innovative Communities

First case study in the series showcases one of the most recognized hockey academies in North America

Edmonton, AB – Rural Alberta Development Fund is launching a new series of case studies, Small Town, Big Sky, to tell the inspiring stories of innovative rural communities and the people who call them home. The first in the series was launched April 4th at the Big Sky Summit. The emotional video shares the story of a small rural town faced with losing their school, a newly renovated rink, one Big Sky idea and the unwavering determination of a few hundred residents.

More than 30,000 volunteer hours and ten years later, Warner is home to a thriving hockey academy. The team has had five alumni play on Team Canada, received over $4.3 million in scholarships and won the 2010 North American JWHL championship.

"It's amazing to see so much support for what we've created," said Sandra Nelson, one of the change agents who helped bring the idea to life. "As long as people believe in their neighbours and are willing to put time into their town's future, small prairie towns won't be going anywhere."

Warner is just one example of communities throughout the province that are filled with big ideas and passionate residents to turn them into reality. With more than 70 projects funded to date, Rural Alberta Development Fund has met dozens of Alberta change agents brave enough to turn their big ideas into reality.

“Every day, we see the vision of change agents come to life and impact our province's rural landscape,” said Jann Beeston, Chair, Rural Alberta Development Fund. “That’s what Small Town, Big Sky is about - sharing the stories and experiences of these leaders and communities, and inspiring more great ideas.”

The remaining case studies in Small Town, Big Sky will be launched on http://www.radf.ca over the coming months.

Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. So far, $77.5 million has been committed to 71 projects. Applications are now being accepted for the remaining $22.5 million, which must be committed by March 31, 2012.

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Links: Backgrounder featuring additional quotes from Warner change agents; media kit.

For more information, contact:
Courtney Mosentine, Director of Communications
Rural Alberta Development Fund
780.436.9585 office;  780.399.7336 cell
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

About Warner Hockey School
The Warner Hockey School was created through the intense support of the Warner community and funding provided by the Rural Alberta Development Fund. The school offers a full curriculum to students supplemented by an intense hockey training program for school-aged girls. The program is coached by Mikko Makela, a retired Finnish hockey player who spent eight seasons playing in the NHL. The Warner Hockey School boasts impressive facilities: an NHL sized arena, therapy rooms, fitness rooms and first-class locker rooms.