Nothing slows Crossfield’s Owen Gabriel down. The fact he’s missing a few fingers on his left hand is an inconvenience he’s learned to work around, thanks to some specialized prosthetics and a lot of determination. A member of the War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, the nine-year-old student at Crossfield Elementary School spoke to his Grade 3 to 5 classmates Oct. 22 about the importance of playing safe. “I was nervous. I was thinking of something else [to get over my nerves],” he said. “I talked about PLAYSAFE – don’t go around lawnmowers, tractors and other things.” The PLAYSAFE program is a unique “kids-to-kids” approach to child safety, according to the War Amps website, intended to make children more aware of dangers they might encounter while playing. CHAMP ambassadors travel to schools and make presentations to their peers. Gabriel was joined at Crossfield Elementary by CHAMP graduate Maria Tourani. “They were listening and paying attention,” Gabriel said of his classmates. “[Tourani] helped me with the presentation.” Gabriel’s mom Niki said he’s been involved with the CHAMP program for approximately four years – but this is the first time he has given a presentation at school. The War Amps started 100 years ago as an organization to assist Canadian soldiers returning from the First World War with an amputation. Since then, it has grown to help amputees of all ages, and created the CHAMP program in 1975. Aside from the PLAYSAFE program, CHAMP also provides child amputees with access to regional seminars and peer support, as well as financial assistance to purchase artificial limbs. Gabriel received a hook prosthetic from the War Amps, but said he was disappointed with how it worked. “They gave me a hook so I could do the monkey bars really fast, but it doesn’t work,” he said. “I couldn’t do it right off the bat.” An avid hockey and soccer player, Gabriel also loves to show off his dance moves. He has a special hockey glove that allows him to play with his novice team in Crossfield. “I play centre and, sometimes, right wing,” he said. “I’ve scored three goals already [this year].” His favourite player is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sydney Crosby, and he was thrilled by how his idol played recently against the Calgary Flames. “We whooped ‘em,” he said, referring to the 9-1 outcome. “Crosby got two goals in the first period.” With his first school presentation behind him, Gabriel said he was looking forward to doing more in the future – between hockey and soccer games, that is.