A display at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm encourages players and coaches to participate in the Minor Hockey Association’s own mental health awareness week from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm Minor Hockey takes initiative on mental health

Association embraces need for awareness, to host its own Mental Health Week

Coaches and co-ordinators within the Salmon Arm Minor Hockey Association will be putting an emphasis on mental illness by establishing their Mental Health Awareness Week.

The initiative comes from Buddy Check For Jesse, an awareness campaign born out of Jesse Short-Gershman’s death by suicide in 2014. Following Jesse’s death, his two brothers started putting green tape on their sticks – the colour of mental health awareness. The campaign hopes to motivate people to perform ‘Buddy Checks,’ a reminder to keep an eye on the mental health of others and themselves.

Buddy Check For Jesse calls for teams to support mental health on the weekend of Oct. 26-27, but the hockey association is expanding the timeframe. Players within the Salmon Arm Hockey Association will hold their own mental health awareness week from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2.

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Players will show their support for the cause by sporting the green tape on their sticks or putting stickers on their helmets with the Buddy Check logo on them.

Mark Delleman, coach of the Atom Development team comprised of 9-10 year-old players, is glad awareness is being spread for the cause.

“Personally, I think the association is really doing their best to make sure every team is doing something, be it tape or stickers – just getting something out to the teams,” Delleman said.

Delleman added he would speak with his team and share Jesse’s story.

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Jeff Loewen, initiation division director and assistant coach for a novice team within the association, said that while he has no experience with mental health personally, he believes it is an important issue.

“I think it’s an extremely worthwhile and valuable cause that has the potential to make more of a difference in somebody’s life than anything on the ice,” Loewen said.


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