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Make Some Noise fundraiser to take place at Gees basketball games

Photo credit: Richard Whittaker 

Mental health is an issue you don’t hear about as much as the cuts, scrapes, and broken bones of everyday athletics. But now, two students want everyone to get loud about it.

Last year, two University of Ottawa students began what they hope will be the “unifying” initiative for student athletes in need of mental health resources.

Women’s basketball shooting guard Van Slingerland who went through her own mental illness two years ago, and co–founder graduate Samantha DeLenardo are now hosting Make Some Noise in order to educate coaches, athletes, and sports administrative population about Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI).

During the women’s and men’s basketball games at Montpetit Hall on Jan. 17, coaches, athletes, and admincan seek information, testimonials, and resources about mental health. Most of the proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the creation of a website that will be “the hub for student-athlete mental health,” according to Van Slingerland.

“There are many valuable initiatives for mental health being undertaken, but we want to be the unifying organization for the special niche population of student athletes in Canada,” she says.

The Dalhousie University Tigers from Halifax and the SAIT Polytechnic Trojans from Calgary have also partnered with SAMHI for the event. The organization reached out across the country in the year since it formed; the idea for Make Some Noise actually came from SAIT, says Van Slingerland.

“We ran with the idea and offered it as a volunteer opportunity to individuals who have contacted us over the past year, interested in helping SAMHI.”

Robbi Daley, who captains the women’s basketball team at Dalhousie, put her school’s foot forward by reaching out to Van Slingerland to get involved.

“I initially wanted to hold the event because I lost a close friend who was a student athlete at Acadia to suicide last April,” said Daley. “So I came across the SAMHI and after reading Krista’s story, I talked to her to see if there was anything I could do at my school to get involved in this initiative.”

Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld. also ran a fundraiser for SAMHI earlier this year, led by Megan Robinson, another female varsity basketball player.

“We raised around $975, I believe. People were very eager to donate towards a mental health initiative because they really understood the importance,” said Robinson. “They were very impressed with SAMHI and were hoping to see it grow across Canada.”

The mental health of student athletes has quickly become a hot topic on the East Coast with the deaths of Alex McLaughlin from Acadia, and Jacob Ranton from Memorial, sadly calling attention to the problem.

For Van Slingerland, the most moving part of the experience has been the support her initiative has received by way of email, Facebook, phone calls, and Twitter. She hopes to move on with new partnerships to push forward innovative research and public policy that protects and promotes the mental health of Canadian student-athletes.

For more information regarding Make Some Noise or the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative, go to facebook.com/samhi.ismea