Saskatchewan Roughriders introduce new mental health initiative for Sask. youth

The Saskatchewan Roughriders foundation has announced a new mental wellness initiative for youth across Saskatchewan.

In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation announced the release of the “Game Changers Playbook” Thursday. The playbook is a collection of ministry-approved mental health resources that are evidence-based and curriculum-linked.

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“It’s OK to not feel yourself,” said Saskatchewan Roughriders centre Dan Clark. “It’s OK to be able to open up about your emotions, talk about how you’re feeling. And we want to be able to equip youth with tools to be able to understand that they know they’re not feeling right.”

The Game Changers Playbook is meant to allow kids to have an easily accessible resource they can turn to for mental health help, and find out what they can do to help others.

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It’s something Clark said was never even a thought when he went to school.

“These programs were not even on the radar,” Clark said. “It was something that was not normal to talk about.

Clark believes if people his age and people in the community can open up and talk about their feelings, it will only help youth to do the same.

“Being 300 pounds and being a big, bigger-than-life figure in the community, it’s something (people often say) that ‘this guy’s obviously got everything going for him,’” Clark said. “But I’m just like every other person.

“I deal with things in my life that caused me trauma, that caused me stress, caused me anxiety. But how can I open up with the youth to be to let them know you’re not alone?”

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The foundation worked with several youth mental wellness organizations to provide the resources to all schools in the province for no cost. Each organization brings different lessons to the playbook, and they are available immediately.

The organizations include:

  • Strong Minds Strong Kids, Psychology Canada – Kids Have Stress Too! and Stress Lessons
  • Kids Help Phone – Counsellor in the Classroom
  • SaskTel – Be Kind Online
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada – The Working Mind for Sport Leaders

“The more we talk about mental wellness, the less stigma there is around it and the more children it will help,” said Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation executive director Cindy Fuchs. “We want to continue to be leaders in that change.”

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The Saskatchewan Roughrider Foundation has also created the “Win with Wellness” presentation series to accompany the resources already provided in the playbook.

The presentations will see trained player ambassadors visiting Saskatchewan classrooms to present on and promote the discussion of mental wellness for youth. Educators will be able to book these presentations in the coming months.

“We’re seeing more interest and more demand from students to have those supports,” said Minister of Education Dustin Duncan. “We’re going to make it available at every school and every student is going to have access and all the teachers are going to have access to the support.”

A copy of the playbook can be found on the Saskatchewan Roughriders website.

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