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Revelstoke minor hockey takes part in mental health initiative

Revelstoke Times Review - 10/28/2019

Youth hockey teams across the province are participating in a mental health initiative that focuses on the importance of looking out for each other.

The Buddy Check for Jesse program is providing over 1,000 BC youth hockey teams with mental health kits filled with green hockey tape, wristbands, and print material for coaches. Green is the colour used for mental health awareness.

The program is a charity that focuses on encouraging coaches to take a few minutes with their team at practice or pre-game to have a discussion about mental health.

The teams in Revelstoke also are taking part.

Pee wee practice at the Revelstoke arena on Oct. 26. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Matt Cameron, coach for the pee-wee hockey team and president of the local Minor Hockey Association, spoke with his team this week on how to look after each other. He said in an interview with Black Press that being a good teammate isn't just about celebrating the goals, but making sure everyone is OK.

If you notice a friend, he said, who is usually loud, but for some reason becomes quiet, it's possible something could be wrong. Just ask them what's up.

"Look after your buddy," he said.

Some kids may or may not have someone to talk to, Cameron said. It's important, he continued, that everyone has someone to lean on.

In Revelstoke, many kids have the same coaches for years. A player's coach can also be someone to turn to, said Cameron.

The Buddy Check for Jesse program was started by Dr. Stu Gershman, who lives in Victoria, in response to his son Jesse's suicide in 2014.

As a hockey coach, he realized the reach and influence he could have with his players by talking about mental health. After Jesse's death, Stu's players began using green stick tape to not only honour Jesse but spark conversation about mental illness.

The goal of the program is simple: help create an environment where teammates support one another and are more aware of the mental health challenges rampant in youths.

This is the second year for the program and the first for Revelstoke.