Hockey Manitoba is pleased to announce that we have partnered with www.BuddyCheckforJesse.com to help create mental health awareness in sport for youth athletes. Buddy Check for Jesse is a Canadian Charity, founded by Dr. Stu Gershman in memory of his son, Jesse Short-Gershman, who died by suicide on October 29, 2014.
The Buddy Check for Jesse program was initially provided by Stu to his sons’ hockey teams to help them feel supported by their teammates during the difficult months after Jesse’s suicide. Stu wanted to take action and create awareness surrounding mental health challenges. He also wanted to teach his athletes to check on (aka Buddy Check) one another and teach his players that being a part of a team is so much more than how you play on the ice.
Stu believes that coaches are in a unique position to share this positive message to help raise awareness that mental health issues can affect anyone.
In the years since Buddy Check began, it has grown, expanded and become a staple conversation in many hockey dressing rooms in BC, and across Canada. Even better, the request for Buddy Check talks in other sports bolstered the charity’s desire to reach more athletes so that Buddy Check for Jesse is now provided on a multi-sport platform where all sports are encouraged to participate in talks and events to raise awareness for mental health in youth sport.
The goal of Buddy Check for Jesse is to destigmatize mental health and to empower and encourage youth and young adults to support one another. During our inaugural partnership with Buddy Check for Jesse and Hockey Manitoba, our Buddy Check program will focus on working with Hockey Manitoba coaches and teams to host events and Buddy Check talks.
This year, Hockey Manitoba will be sending out Buddy Check for Jesse packages to our U13, U15, and U18 teams throughout the province. All U13, U15, and U18 teams in Manitoba will receive a package that includes rolls of green tape (green is the color for mental health), wristbands, and printed Buddy Check materials.
We will be sending a shipment of packages to each Minor Hockey Association that should then be distributed to each U13, U15, and U18 team in early January 2022.
These packages will then be delivered to the Head Coach/Manager of each team and each team’s coaches should review the material within each package. In addition to the Buddy Check for Jesse swag for your athletes, there are Coaches Notes that provide a bit of a guideline of what to say and what to talk about during your Buddy Check talk.
Coaches: You do NOT need to be mental health experts to give this talk, you simply need to provide a safe space for your players and open up the conversation around mental health and what it means to support one another both on and of the ice. You have resources to help you and please feel free to review the website!
Our Hockey Manitoba Buddy Check Events will take place between January 24-30, 2022.
Our hope is that by opening up the conversation about mental health, we begin to normalize checking in on one another and destigmatize mental health disorders. We hope this Buddy Check talk will encourage teammates to support one another and become more aware of potential mental health issues so they are more prepared to step in with support when they see a teammate, friend or family member struggling. We hope that this can all lead to an improvement in the culture of sport.
Jesse’s family hopes that through creating the program in Jesse’s honor, it will help other youth and families.
Please note: There may be additional packages available that could be sent out on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you wish to sign up more teams outside of the U13, U15, and U18 age groups in your Minor Hockey Association, you can make a request to Ezra Ginsburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on the Buddy Check program, go to www.BuddyCheckForJesse.com.