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Buddy Check for Jesse

Author: BC Games Society/Monday, November 30, 2020/Categories: Front Page, News, 2020 News, Sport System, Partners

Buddy Check for Jesse

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, mental health awareness is more important than ever. The Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence (PISE) and viaSport have recently partnered with the Buddy Check for Jesse Society, a program bringing awareness to mental health in sport. The society was created by Dr. Stu Gershman in memory of his son Jesse Short-Gershman who tragically took his life in 2014 after struggling with mental health issues. Since partnering with BC Hockey, their message has spread to hundreds of coaches and thousands of players and this new partnership will expand the program across a wider range of sports.

Stu got involved in coaching Jesse’s two younger brothers to support them after the loss of their brother and had the idea for their hockey teams to tape their stickblades with green tape, the color representing mental health. He began talking to the teams on the last weekend of October in a pre-game briefing about Jesse’s struggle with mental health and the importance of checking in. Stu’s goal is to destigmatize mental health issues and to empower and encourage youth to support one another.

Although the program is aimed at coaches to help spread the message of mental health awareness to their teams, the message is for everyone. Stu believes that coaches are in a unique position to create awareness and encourage their young athletes. He hopes to destigmatize mental health issues and create a supportive environment in sport where players check in with their teammates if they see them struggling.

“It’s a message that I hope will spread throughout the sport community and beyond,” he says. “If we look out for each other and do a ‘Buddy Check’ with our friends, teammates, family members and even with ourselves, I believe we can make a difference in each other’s lives. Our youth are the ones who can change the future. We need to give them the right message and tools to do this.”

At the BC Games Society, the goal of the Culture of the Games is to create an environment that supports the mental health of our young athletes. We believe that everyone associated with the Games has the right to participate in an environment that is supportive, positive, respectful, and accessible, and that we each have the responsibility to contribute in a positive way to the experiences of everyone involved. In support of Buddy Check for Jesse, we have added a link to their website in our resources for coaches and athletes, which can be found in our Culture of the Games section here: https://www.bcgames.org/Games/Culture-of-the-Games.

You can join Buddy Check for Jesse by having your team use the color green for mental health on your sports equipment, clothing or in other creative ways to help spread the message. More information as well as resources like cards, posters, and coach notes can be found on their website here: https://buddycheckforjesse.com/.

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