The SAIT Trojans are the recipients of the CCAA Community Service Award for an unprecedented fourth time.
Driven by SAIT student-athletes, “Make Some Noise for Mental Health” was a pilot project to encourage open-mindedness and initiate conversations about mental health. The campaign, an extension of SAIT’s Trojan Outreach Program (TOP), also sought to better promote the resources and support that are available on campus and in the local area.
(See video below)
“Mental health is something that affects each and every one of us, whether it’s just feeling anxious or overwhelmed or a more serious mental illness, we all need to pay more attention to our mental health,” said Billie Rae Busby, SAIT’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. “Student-athletes in particular face additional pressure to be able to handle wins and losses and they may not always know how to cope.”
The Trojan Outreach Program reached out to Canadian not-for-profit organization SAMHI (Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative) to share ideas and resources for raising awareness. The campaign culminated as the focus of a campus wide pep rally and a weekend of nine SAIT Trojans events which included volleyball, basketball, hockey and indoor track competitions. Fans attending Trojans’ games received complimentary Make Some Noise cowbells and thundersticks, while t-shirts were distributed through contests.
“This award recognizes the commitment of our coaches and student-athletes to the Trojans Pillars — Athletic Excellence, Academic Success and Community Citizenship,” said Mark Pretzlaff, Athletics and Recreation Director. “It is a testament that sport represents the best school of life by teaching young people the skills and values they need to be good citizens and role models.”
The campaign gained attention and support from other SAIT departments, community groups, and local media and discussions began almost immediately on how to expand the initiative in the coming years.
“This was not only a well-executed campaign by the SAIT Athletic Department, but also topical and relevant to the student-athletes we serve and indeed the entire campus-wide student body,” said Mark Kosak, CEO for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. “The ACAC was suitably impressed and have adopted the campaign for next season as a conference-wide initiative.”
The Community Service Award recognizes a CCAA member institution that has successfully developed and administered a community relations program. The Community Service Award was presented to Pretzlaff and Busby at the CCAA’s Hall of Fame Banquet in Fredericton, NB.
Other candidates for the 2015 CCAA Community Service Award included:
Douglas College: Royal’s Women’s Basketball Community Outreach Programs
George Brown College: Huskies Outreach
Humber College: Hawks Have Heart
Keyano College: ConocoPhillips Student Sport Leadership
Loyalist College: “Together We Are Stronger”
Niagara College: Knights Have Chivalry Program
UNB-Saint John: Student Athletic Advisory Council
SAIT's Make Some Noise for Mental Health Video: