The Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation is making strides in its “Win with Wellness Presentation Series,” a player ambassador mental health initiative for youth.
The presentation series is designed for grades 5-8. Player ambassadors promote and discuss mental wellness in schools across Saskatchewan.
“We definitely feel like it’s connected with grades 5-8, but we can present to anybody,” Dan Clark, an ambassador with the initiative and current Saskatchewan Roughrider, told CTV News.
“It allows us to get into the community, the schools, and be able to talk to the students about things we feel are important. Not only from the [Roughrider] Foundation but also the players.”
The Roughrider Foundation described the initiative as “bringing awareness and educating youth on what mental health is.”
“We break down what our youth know about stress and anxiety while bringing an open conversation from our ambassadors of what they have been through and how they cope with their own struggles,” a statement from the foundation outlined.
The series touches on:
- Tips for managing anxiety and stress.
- Understanding mental wellness.
- Supportive and health relationships.
- Support and tools available to youth in Saskatchewan.
“For me, you look at the stressers that football gives you,” Clark said.
“You look at the not knowing if you’ll have a job or [not] knowing what’s going to happen week to week, going through injuries. I feel like I can share from the sport side of it to the students.”
Clark is one of six Roughriders that are ambassadors for the program.
Brett Lauther, Brayden Lenius, Mitchell Picton, Jorgen Hus, and Derrick Moncrief also make their way throughout the province to share their stories.
“That’s one of my main priorities in the community, you know, is just try to be a beacon of light,” Moncrief explained.
“I remember being like 7 or 8 years old and looking up to NFL players and stars on TV. That’s a big thing. Anytime you can reach back to the community ... It’s always a blessing.”
“[There are] no better people to talk about mental health than professional athletes who have been equipped with the right training and passion for change,” the Roughrider Foundation added.
The ambassadors cover the necessary topics but also take the time to use their stories and their platforms to break the stigma of talking about mental health.
“It’s not just being on TSN or being in front of 33,000 people at Mosaic. We are people too and we deal with things. There’s no better people to learn that from than the people who have been through it,” Clark explained.
The outreach initiative quickly gained traction throughout the province after its introduction in October, according to Clark.
“We had a waitlist of about 50 schools,” he said.
“We reached out to those schools and we reached 4,102 youth with our Win with Wellness Program in December.”
More information and how to register for a school presentation in your area can be found on the Saskatchewan Roughrider’s website.