(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Warlocks Minor Lacrosse Association have furthered the battle for mental health awareness. On May 7 and 8, the Warlocks held two nights of activities for their players, their families, and anyone interested in promoting mental health awareness.
The event was held in conjunction with Zone 7 Lacrosse’s initiative called Stick It To Stigma.
“I had a conversation with my brother [Nick Salaris], who is the president of minor hockey in Petrolia, and he mentioned a partnership program they had started with other associations in the area called Face-Off Against Mental Health,” said Warlocks’ vice president John Salaris. “This really had my ear and so starting a mental health awareness campaign within our Warlocks association was discussed during our winter board meetings. The entire board felt as though this was an important initiative to follow up on and a wonderful tool to interact with our players and families to help combat mental health.”
The Warlocks were not the only minor lacrosse association in the area looking to tackle the stigma.
“Much to our delight the president of Zone 7, Jenn Matheson, and executive of Zone 7 had already been in discussion to start a mental health program that would encompass all associations within the zone,” he said.
With Zone 7 Lacrosse, the Warlocks, Sarnia Pacers, Wallaceburg Red Devils, and London Blue Devils set a new local mandate for dealing with this common societal problem called Stick It To Stigma Mental Health Awareness Days.
“Sport, in general, can be a catalyst towards good mental health and we felt that a campaign like this could help our members feel comfortable in coming forward with any issues and provide contacts for support and help if needed,” said Salaris.
Before the Warlocks could get an event like this going, they needed to find partners who were in the know about mental health awareness.
“Tammy Drazilov of the Regional Children’s Centre was contacted and she was excited to participate in the event,” he said. “Tammy had mentioned that mental health services were covered by several agencies for varying age groups in the Windsor area, so she contacted Laurie Kapetanov of Children’s First and Lori LaBute of Maryvale who were more than happy to support the campaign.”
With the dates set and partners in place, all that was left was getting the kids and their families to come out and engage with the mental health groups. As an incentive, the Warlocks organization set up a series of activities for the kids to get them into the spirit of things, including interactive games, a poster competition, face painting, a colouring area, guessing games, and free giveaways.
For their efforts, the turnout was large and enthusiastic.
“We feel the event was a success and it is an initiative that the Warlocks and Zone 7 lacrosse will continue to support each and every year,” said Salaris. “The executive board here in Windsor is a fantastic group that goes above and beyond on a regular basis for Warlocks players and families and they embraced the Stick It To Stigma initiative from the start.”
The point is to be there and to look out for one and other.
“We are not a large organization and view ourselves as family,” he said. “We want our players to be better lacrosse players, but we also want them to be better teammates and people. We want to provide an environment where they can feel comfortable, accepted, and safe to talk to someone if there is something wrong or help is needed. Breaking down the barriers and stigma attached to mental health is an excellent and important way to accomplish that goal.”