Written By John Short
Students, staff and athletes at NAIT came together this past weekend to Make Some Noise for Mental Health an initiative powered by RBC and the ACAC. By Sunday evening, the entire event was declared a success, and the description was accurate.
The process occupied much of January, part of the ACAC's annual drive to focus attention on mental health. NAIT and its competitive partners kept the message at a prominent level, as usual, before the closing weekend.
RBC has stepped in as a major sponsor and had several representatives on hand in their distinctive blue shirts to greet spectators with noisemakers that included logos of all 16 ACAC institutions and a clear reminder that the Canadian Mental Health Association has been involved since the campaign began a few years ago.
NAIT athletic director John Bower made clear his pleasure that the drive continues to make progress.
"As a member of the ACAC, the NAIT Ooks understand the important role we can play in demystifying much of the stigma and other challenges attached to mental health issues," he said. "As some of the most visible students on campus, we choose to use our (athletic) platform to champion this issue."
He emphasized that the program is designed to show students and community that many services "are available on our campus to assist . . . those who may need help. Our 200 student-athletes are a part of the NAIT family. We want everyone to know it's a sign of strength, tremendous strength when someone asks for help.
"We hope the support and positive energy our student-athletes have for the RBC Make Noise for Mental Health and other events will provide an opportunity for those who struggle with mental illness to find the courage to come forward."
Men's volleyball coach Doug Anton, whose Ooks split in their weekend clashes with first-place Keyano, pointed out that timing is right and NAIT's demographic adds some depth to the vital project. "Students about the age of our players are more aware of this than a lot of us were only a few years ago.
"This a great platform for all of us to deliver the message that we know how important it is to keep finding ways to fight for mental health."