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Salmon Arm Minor Hockey takes initiative on mental health

Salmon Arm Observer - 10/24/2019

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.

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Will you be taping your sticks green to help bring awareness and show support for those battling mental health challenges? This initiative impacts our players, our coaches, our friends and our families? Please spread the word and let's cover the rinks in green this October. Our official #BuddyCheckforJesse weekend is October 26/27...but we're already seeing a lot of green out there. Thank you so very much. Please tag us and use our hashtag: #BuddyCheckforJesse so we can show our gratitude for your continued support. #MentalHealthAwareness #BCHL #VictoriaGrizzlies #VictoriaRoyals #MinorHockey #MentalHealthWarrior

A post shared by Buddy Check for Jesse (@buddycheckforjesse) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2019-10-10T16:00:25+00:00">Oct 10, 2019 at 9:00am PDT</time>

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.

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.

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.