Video: COMMUNITY | Hockey Talks
In a collaborative effort with all Canadian National Hockey League (NHL) teams, the Edmonton Oilers hosted their fifth annual Hockey Talks game night on March 10 - helping to bring awareness and raise funds to support mental health services.
"The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) is especially thrilled to support mental health initiatives for youth in Oil Country," said EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler. "It's important to our Foundation that we facilitate a conversation and make a real impact by helping break down common misconceptions and stigma associated with mental health."
Facing off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, the Oilers helmets were decorated with Hockey Talks decals as a display of support, while the EOCF and Oilers Ladies sold autographed Oilers 'mystery' pucks around the Rogers Place concourse.
"The fun part about this initiative is each autographed puck is in a gift bag, so you don't know who signed the puck until you buy it and open it!" added Minckler.
The concourse was buzzing with excitement, as fans were eager for the opportunity to purchase these limited-edition, autographed Oilers pucks with the Inaugural Season logo for only $20. Net proceeds raised from the sales have been donated to the EOCF and CASA Foundation to support CASA's Adolescent Day Program.
Earlier this week, the Oilers Ladies and the EOCF paid a visit to the beneficiaries of the fundraiser, CASA Centre, where they participated in CASA's art therapy program with some of the children.
"After meeting all those kids and knowing what CASA does, it's pretty incredible to know what the money is going to go to and how it's going to help those kids," said Francesca Vangel.
CASA PHOTO GALLERY
CASA Centre is a newly opened trauma-informed facility in Edmonton, designed to work with children and provide mental health services and support.
"So many of our youth and children that come into CASA have experienced trauma, whether it's been neglect, abuse, divorce, separation or struggling with learning," said CASA and CASA Foundation CEO Dr. Denise Milne. "This is an opportunity to help that child have success by dealing with behaviours and their mental wellbeing so they can move their life forward."
From an art therapy and cultural room, to a music therapy and a fitness room, the new 41,000 square feet facility offers a diverse array of treatment options to help cater to each child's specific needs.
Net proceeds raised from the Oilers Hockey Talks event will specifically be put towards supporting CASA's Adolescent Day Program and outfitting the Centre with fitness equipment.
"The funds will go towards buying [gym] equipment, it's going to go into the adolescent fitness room and it's going to support other initiatives we're doing with our kids at CASA," said Milne.
Milne also explained how the new Centre will sport the Oilers crest throughout the building.
"With our new building, we're very excited about the fact that we're going to have Oilers logos all over - on our equipment, on our walls - it's going to be a wonderful partnership," she said. "Imagine this, you're a child in these programs and you see the Oilers logo up in the gym on the wall and on all the equipment from hockey sticks to volleyballs. That in itself will give our kids hope and inspiration to focus on their strengths and their well-being.
"The Oilers are local heroes that these kids can actually feel connected to and that gives a different sense of resilience."
Not only were fans given the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition autographed Oilers puck on Friday night, but they also had a hand in bringing even more smiles to CASA Centre.
"Mental health is everybody's business. We're all impacted by grief, loss, trauma and addictions, so it impacts all of us. If we take a strong community approach - a strong family approach - we can support these children and youth to have success," Milne said, as her eyes gleamed with a renewed sense of hope.
With 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing a mental health or addiction problem in any given year, the Oilers Hockey Talks event not only aims to raise funds for CASA's Adolescent Day Program, but hopes to start a conversation surrounding mental health.
"We have a role and responsibility to play in creating awareness and reducing the stigma with mental health issues," said Minckler.
For more information on the CASA Foundation, please visit www.casaservices.org
And don't forget to join the conversation using #HockeyTalks on social media!
Mental Health Resources:
- 211 (1-888-482-4696) or ab.211.ca
- Health Link Alberta - 780-408-5465
- Mental Health Help Line - 1-877-303-2642
- Distress Line - 780-482-4357 or 1-800-232-7288