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Ready to drop the puck and start talking (4 photos)

“The event has grown in large part to the increasing awareness of the importance of mental health in the hockey community”

The Start Talking Cup is a tradition that is becoming not only bigger each year, but more appreciated, with every puck drop.

The third annual STC has become an event too big for just one or two games. The 2017 edition will feature three competitive hockey games where bragging rights will be on the line.

The day will feature the Minor Midget Barrie Colts versus the North Central Predators; the Bantam Barrie Sharks will take on the Aurora Panthers and in Minor Atom action, the Barrie Colts versus the North Central Predators.

“The event has grown in large part to the increasing awareness of the importance of mental health in the hockey community,” said Jim Harris, Director of Support Services for the Canadian Mental Health Association (Simcoe County Branch).

“In 2014 after the suicide of former player Terry Trafford, CMHA Ontario and the Ontario Hockey League developed the Talk Today program which provides mental health training and support to players, coaches and billet families. Locally, the CMHA Simcoe County branch and the Barrie Colts work together to support this program but the event could not have grown without the incredible support from the Barrie Colts AAA and North Central Predators organizations. They have been instrumental in supporting the event and this year helped us with adding a girl’s game featuring the Barrie Sharks and Aurora Panthers.”

Last year’s event happened on the night of a terrible winter storm but still raised for $17,000 and had 1,300 dedicated hockey fans cheering on the teams.

“The money raised will support CMHA’s Youth Services Program and enhancements to its new facility as well as continued efforts to provide mental health education and awareness in our community,” said Harris.

Start Talking is a campaign on behalf of Simcoe County Mental Health Awareness and led by members of the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County Branch. Long considered an issue that was best left not talked about, mental health and particularly suicide has been brought to the forefront in recent years as the numbers and statistics have been astonishing.

In 2009, there were 3,890 suicides in Canada and those numbers continue to climb each year.

“Suicide is the leading cause of non-accidental death for youth in Canada and Simcoe County,” said Harris. “Youth between the ages of 16-24 have the highest rates of suicide and depression is a common factor in suicide. Alcohol and drugs are factors in 85 per cent of suicides which is why the CMHA’s Start Talking about Coping and Drugs (STACD) program has worked to address this in local elementary and high schools over the past three years. Eight of ten people who die by suicide give clues to their intention and our Education and Training is avertable to help us identify these important clues and risk factors.”

The Start Talking Cup takes place January 22 at the Barrie Molson Centre with tickets being $2. 

The event runs from 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with the AAA Minor Atom Barrie Colts vs. North Central Predators up first, followed by the first ever girls game involving the AA Barrie Sharks vs. the Aurora Panthers and ending with a battle between the AAA Minor Midget Barrie Colts and the Orillia North Central Predators.


Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based on Barrie
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