The Lethbridge College Kodiaks are making some noise for mental health this January — but in new, creative ways.
Each year, the school’s teams take part in the Alberta College’s Athletic Association’s (ACAC) Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign, but usually, it involves noisy crowds and pep rallies. This year, the Kodiaks have been tasked with keeping the conversation going, entirely online.
“They have been doing a really good job of reaching out to each team individually, and we’ve been submitting videos and ideas,” said third-year soccer and track athlete Jasmin Salmon.
Each team has been assigned a day to take over the Kodiaks’ social media platforms during the two-week campaign and share how they feel about mental wellness.
“We actually put a video together where we all shared mental health facts and try to start the conversation that way,” said men’s volleyball player Nate Heyburn. “Just try and spread some general awareness about how much it affects our demographic.”
Those involved say the conversations are more important than ever in a year that’s forced students online and athletes away from their sports.
“Usually, I look at my teammates — who I see every day — and you can tell if something is off, so this year, it’s a little harder. We physically are reaching out to each other with weekly check-ins,” said Salmon.
“I think if there was a year that it could have been forgotten about, it would be this year, but this is also the year that it’s the most important that we need to be talking about it.”
Game day events co-ordinator Kayla Blacquiere has been in charge of the Kodiaks’ work for the campaign, and she says while not a student herself, she’s seen how difficult the change has been for those moving online.
“This whole campaign is super important, as it always is, but especially right now.”
Blacquiere said she’s always impressed by the athletes’ commitment to the campaign.
“I think they’re happy to tell everybody that, ‘Hey, we have problems too, just like you guys. We’re all the same.’ So they really buy into that. I think that they are good leaders. They’re good role models, especially for a lot of high school or junior high kids,” she said.
Heyburn said he and his teammates are always happy to participate and try to make a difference.
“We have a platform to speak and a voice to be heard,” he said. “If we have an opportunity to share a message, why would we not use that?”
This year’s campaign began Jan. 18 and will continue online through Jan. 29.