Game on! Wards Lawyers Kids’ Road Hockey Tournament might be Canada’s biggest

By Jamie Morris

This just might be the nation’s largest kids’ road hockey tournament.

What could be more Canadian than a road hockey game? Well, how about a tournament with no fewer than 12 road hockey rinks and games running all day?

The Wards Lawyers Kids’ Road Hockey Tournament in support of youth mental health is set for Sunday, May 26. According to lawyer and organizer Jason Ward it will probably be the nation’s largest kids’ road hockey tournament.

All that will be missing when it gets underway at 8 am will be game-pausing cries of “Car!” (Kent Street, from Cambridge to York, will be closed to traffic for the event.)

This will be the fourth year for the tournament and numbers are at an all-time high.

Altogether there will be 61 teams and a total of 550 players. They’ll be playing in five divisions, ranging from Mites (born 2012 or 2013) to Peewees (born 2006 or 2007).

Last year’s Wards Lawyers’ road hockey event produced many winners.

“Kids really look forward to this,” says Tournament Coordinator Robyn McNab.

Efforts have been made to ensure the event is as inclusive as possible: Kids wanting to participate but unable to create a team could register as an Alternate Position (AP) player. Tournament organizers placed the AP players on teams within their divisions.

The teams — bearing names such as Dynamite Defenders, Lindsay Leafs, and Blue Lightning –are guaranteed four games played four-on-four. Teams will be competing to have their team-names added to the five impressive Ward Cup trophies (one for each division).

Registration was free for the kids, and all will receive t-shirts provided by Wards Lawyers, the organizers and sponsor for the event. Maria Francis, Ward’s team lead on the event, was quick to note how supportive other downtown businesses have been. A number have donated raffle baskets, and Water Depot is providing large jugs of water.

Restaurants and stores will all be open and the organizers hope to see lots of spectators. Playoffs will begin around 2 pm, with an awards ceremony to follow.

The Cause

For the second year in a row the goal is to support youth mental health. All money raised through donations and the raffle goes to Canadian Mental Health Association programs for local youth.

Last year’s event raised $6,500 ($5,000 of that was a donation from Wards Lawyers). Money was used to fund Mental Health First Aid training for 40 students in two area secondary schools. It equipped those students not only to take better care of their own mental health but to support peers who might be struggling or in crisis.

“The results we got back were overwhelmingly positive,” reports Jack Veitch, manager of community engagement and education for the HKPR branch of the CMHA.

This year’s tournament is in support of of the C.M.H.A./ H.K.P.R. Early Psychosis Intervention (E.P.I.) Program in Lindsay. Psychosis is a mental health condition that affects one’s ability to accurately determine what’s real and what is not. About three per cent of the population will experience psychosis, and it usually begins during the teenage years.

The CMHA works in partnership with Ross Memorial’s Lynx EIP program. Once referred (or self-referred) youth are contacted within 72 hours and can be meeting with a psychiatrist within three weeks.

The CMHA’s role is to provide family support and education. “We see many of the youth who had a disruptive experience with psychosis go on to have meaningful mental health recoveries, and we help them re-integrate into their communities (school, work, family, friends) as part of their recovery journey,” says Veitch.

A cause well worth supporting.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the event contact . Additional refs and score-keepers are needed as well as helpers for set-up and tear-down.

For more information on on the Lynx Early Psychosis Intervention program see here.

For information on Canadian Mental Health Association services or to make a donation visit their website.

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