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Petrolia Minor Hockey supporting mental health initiative

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Local hockey leagues across the county have partnered up with St. Clair Child and Youth Services to show support and raise awareness when it comes to mental health.

The Petrolia Minor Hockey Association is one of those leagues that will be taping their sticks green to show their support in Face Off For Mental Health. Other teams who have taken part include the Point Edward Minor Hockey Association, Sarnia Hockey Association, Lambton Sting Jr. AAA Hockey Club, Lambton Attack Girls Hockey, Lambton Shores Minor Hockey and East Lambton Minor Hockey Association.

PMHA President Nick Salaris said when St. Clair Child and Youth came to them to see if they wanted to get involved, they were eager to get on board.

Salaris said mental health issues have been seen in the grassroots level all the way up to the pros, but it isn’t just in hockey where concerns have been raised.

“I think we’ve all seen the increase in mental health issues not just in hockey, but in general everyday life,” he said.

Partnering up with other hockey organization as well as a reputable organization seemed like a great opportunity, Salaris said. It’s also a way to get children and youth more informed on a topic that was once hardly addressed out in the open.

Salaris said they want to do what they can to help bring awareness to mental health, especially for kids in the area.

“We’re trying to do what we can to raise awareness and hopefully recognize issues before they become huge problems,” he said.

The idea for this originally came to light after a local coach approached St. Clair Child and Youth Services; they were seeking information about mental health and how to better support players.

From there, the idea blossomed to become an initiative, and Salaris said they’ve already discussed making it an annual event for the hockey teams. He said they don’t want it to just be a one-time thing but to build on the momentum and keep discussions going.

“From there is just evolved,” he said. “It’s our first kick at the can…but it’s something we might do on an annual basis and have mental health awareness campaigns with minor hockey moving forward.”

PHMA teams will hit the ice with green tape on their hockey sticks during games on Nov. 17, 18 and 19. Salaris said they hope to do even more in the future in the realm of mental health awareness.

“It’s something that hits close to home for so many people,” he said. “It’s one way for us to give back to kids, the community and families.”