by Delaney Campbell
MANITOULIN – Noojmowin Teg Health Centre is welcoming 2022 with a Virtual Youth Hockey Challenge, running from January 7th-31st. The challenge calls on young hockey players, Island-wide, to submit videos that display their hockey skills, offering a variety of prizes for top talent.
All participants will benefit from a chance to virtually meet former NHL-er, Brandon Nolan, of Garden River First Nation. This will be the second annual program of this nature. Last year, Noojmowin Teg similarly adapted their programs to virtual platforms and saw considerable success. This year, with similar restrictions on in-person events, organizers are prepared to adapt to virtual platforms once again.
Healthy Living Youth Program Coordinator Mark Peltier organized this event and reflects on the need for continued physical activity while being mindful of COVID-19 restrictions. “Getting outside and being active is important for kids’ mental health,” states Mr. Peltier, mirroring concerns that many have voiced regarding the impacts of staying indoors and/or being isolated.
Many health organizations, including SickKids and Children’s Mental Health Organization (CMHO) have explored the ways in which children have managed pandemic restrictions, confirming Mr. Peltier’s belief that a focus on mental health is important. The virtual youth hockey challenge demonstrates community efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 while providing opportunities to validate the importance of mental health. Virtual platforms, of course, have been a considerable part of this effort.
“It’s definitely tough,” Mr. Peltier shared in reflecting on the difficulty of switching to predominantly virtual platforms, especially in such interactive sports-based programs. He fondly recalls the days of teaching skills in person, which is preferable. “However, virtual platforms have expanded rural communities’ access to guest speakers. Mr. Peltier noted that some speakers have been made available to Island communities via Zoom and this would have been previously impossible due to travel costs.
The challenge anticipates more than a dozen participants and encourages young players (ages 6-14) to submit videos until the January 31st deadline. Prizes are awarded for top skills, speed, saves and any hockey-related drills. For more information, visit the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre facebook page, website, or contact Mark Peltier at 705-368-2182.
If you are concerned about the mental health of youth in your community, resources are available.
The telephone contact for Noojmowin Teg Health Centre (Intensive Child & Youth Counselling Program) is 1-705-368-2182 and for Compass (formerly known as Child and Family Centre), 1-800-815-7126.