PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Located in the heart of Cobbs Creek, the Laura Sims Skate House on 63rd Street is a home away from home for hundreds of kids. It’s also the home of one of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Program’s ice hockey teams.

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“Hockey is just the hook that gives us the opportunity to inspire and support our student’s pursuit of academic and character excellence,” says Jan Koziara, executive director of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

The non-profit was established by Philadelphia Flyers Founder Ed Snider more than a decade ago. With the help of volunteers, mentors, coaches and more, the non-profit provides mentoring, after school reading, free hockey equipment and training for thousands of kids every year.

“We are in some of the most undeserved areas of Philadelphia,” Koziara said. “We really worked with partners and the schools and community organizations to get kids in these neighborhood interested in the sport.”

The foundation has helped thousands of kids interested in ice hockey, and in a city partnership has transformed outdoor rinks into year-round state of the art facilities, making them easily accessible.

“I don’t think any other program has as much diversity in it,” says Joshua Stephenson, who grew up in Snider Hockey.

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Jan Koziara, Josh Stephenson and Josh’s dad  — Credit: Cherri Gregg

“It changed my life,” he said. “When I’m on the ice it feels like heaven.”

The 17-year-old is a star player for one of the Snider youth teams and thanks to one of the foundation’s scholarship programs all he has to do is get into West Chester University and he’ll go four years all expenses paid.

“It’s a relief,” he says, noting he’s still waiting for that acceptance letter. “I really want to make it to the NHL or play hockey as long as possible.”

Reporter: Finish this sentence..”I believe we are changing the game by..”

Koziara: “Making sure that we are using the game to support our kids off of the ice.”

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For more on Snider Youth Hockey, go to http://sniderhockey.org/.