M ental health and sports over the past year has been getting closer and closer together when trying to break down stigmas around this topic. More and more professional athletes are now confessing their stress and anxiety in a very fast paced environment. Why is this so important? Their crowd, who are mostly young and energetic youth gets to see and listen to people they look upto and understand some of the challenge they face. They may get a better comprehension on how to deal with it, and how to get help.
One email to Ryerson’s President Mohamed Lachemi, was all that we needed to secure its state-of-the-art basketball court at the Mattamy’s Athletic Centre.
On November 18th, we hosted 140 youth ages 9-17 over 2 sessions at the Mattamy Athletic’s Centre in Toronto. Keeping them engaged with our passionate volunteers, we had 2 sold out clinics hosted by none other than the voice of the Toronto Raptors, Mark Strong. Together, with Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, they kept the kids engaged while doing drills and learning about MAR’s struggles and the importance in seeking help. Concluded by one of our very own counsellors, Taha Muhammad, he re-assured all the kids participating, the value and importance of reaching out to Naseeha, in a confidential and non-judgemental manner if anything was bothering them.
Inclusivity was also very important. We wanted to include youth from all walks of life, including our special guests from SMILE and Deen Services. We had help from the volunteers at IFT youth, Hijabi Ballers and had warmups done by Konga Fitness and Zehra that keep our kids engaged. Overlooked by their parents upstairs, they were kept amazed by our committed volunteers who welcomed them with signed jerseys for the kids, along with a personal water bottle.
Thank you to everyone who made our inaugural clinic Hoops for Mental Health a success and we look forward to hosting many more in order to tackle the stigmas that exist together.