Sturgeon teachers pitch in for mental health

A Sturgeon teacher prepares to put the timber to the ball May 27 during the ATA Local No. 27’s Pitching Stereotypes on Mental Health.

By Staff

Morinville – They’ve donned superhero costumes to play dodge ball, put on silly hats of all sorts to parade the halls of Namao School during a school day, but May 27 was an opportunity for Sturgeon School Division teachers and their guests to get together for something a little less flamboyant – a night of softball.

But while the event was more subdued than earlier events, at the heart of the matter was the same important cause. Billed as Pitching Stereotypes on Mental Health, the teachers once again united to raise awareness and funds for mental health while enjoying some extracurricular fellowship.

The Friday night sporting event was the second part of an initiative that began last October when Sturgeon teachers united for a superhero-themed dodge ball tournament. The tournament pitted teachers from various schools in the Sturgeon School Division against one another under the tag line Don’t Dodge the Truth on Mental Health.

Sturgeon Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) Local No. 27 Vice President Thomas Holmes said the goal was to raise $1,200 between the two events, monies that will be donated to the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMA).

Beyond the financial goals of the initiative, Holmes said the event sought to raise awareness of mental health in and out of the classroom.

“What we are trying to do is demonstrate to our community that teachers are concerned citizens,” Holmes said. “Not only concerned professionals in a classroom, but concerned citizens outside of it.”

Holmes explained it is not expected teachers would respond in a therapeutic way; however, teachers can be aware when help may be needed.

“Often they’re the first response,” he said of teachers. “They notice a student is suffering from some depression, some anxiety, and can just get the right supports in place for that student.”

Mental health is also important to teaching staff, something Holmes said gatherings like Friday night’s softball tournament helps with.

“When we have all of our staff together, we’re socializing together, we’re spending time together – we’re actually improving the mental health of our teachers,” he said. “And that’s the bottom line. If our teachers are mentally healthy, they’re not stressed out.”

More than 150 teachers and their guests gathered at the Morinville diamonds for the event.

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