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Can Bou Play & Mindology launch Sport In Mind - Mental Health Program 

Photo (Left to Right) - Robert Hadad (CEO HADCO), Tobias Ottley (Executive Manager - EDPU - SPORTT), Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor (President T&T Association of Psychologists), Amiel Mohammed (CEO - Can Bou Play Foundation), Amanda Johnson (EDPU - SPORTT), Alexandria Olton (Mindology Trinidad)

The Can Bou Play Foundation and Mindology Trinidad have teamed up to launch the Sport In Mind – Mental Health Program which ushers in a new era on how mental health is approached in Trinidad and Tobago and how sport can operate as a great tool to tackle various mental challenges and the stigma attached to the mental health discussion.

 

Alexandria Olton of Mindology Trinidad, a sport psychological practice, needed little convincing in partnering with Can Bou Play for this initiative and believes that in the face of mounting societal pressures, youth can find a healthy tonic from sport, especially when its guided.

“Sport for me was always an escape from the stresses of my academic and work-life. A solace, a mental break that provided a sense of fulfilment and belonging,” proclaimed Olton. 

 

‘The Sport In Mind Program aims to provide the very solace and escape I found within my own sporting career, to the young people of our society today.”

Sport In Mind will run every Wednesday from 4 to 6 pm at the Ultimate Indoor Facility (Aranguez), to provide a safe and welcoming space for adolescents to participate in a multitude of sports (primarily football) with highly qualified technical coaches; provided by the Can Bou Play Foundation, and engage in one to one and group discussions, workshops and idea sharing spaces with sport psychologist Olton.

The target demographic of the program is adolescents 15 years and older and is free to participants.

Olton continued, “The impact sport and exercise can have on one’s mental wellbeing is so beneficial that the Royal College of Psychiatrists recognize exercise prescription as a form of treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions.”

In 2012, then Minister of Health, revealed that 1 in 4 people in our society are suffering with mental illness. Furthermore, it was stated, 21.5% of students admitted to feeling sad or hopeless almost every day to the extent that they stopped participating in their usual activities. Trinidad and Tobago also has the third highest suicide rate in the region, and more suicides per 100,000 people than even the United States.

Feature speaker at the launch, President of the T&T Association of Psychologists, Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor echoed Olton’s sentiments and was extremely pleased with the approach taken by the Sport In Mind team to remedy these pervasive issues.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Association for Psychologists welcomes this initiative, Sport In Mind,” stated Dr Nakhid-Chatoor.

“If you don’t know it, mental illness in the young people in Trinidad and Tobago, the rates between the ages of 14 to 29 are increasing. Earlier this year, so far in the schools, we have on record, more than twenty four students that have died by suicide not only in secondary schools, but in the primary schools.“

“Mental health and physical health are fundamentally linked. There are multiple associations between poor mental health and chronic physical conditions… so we are hoping that S.I.M. would be able to offer a refuge, which is a safe space to rebuild one self, for those in schools and others. “

The Sport In Mind Program will run for an initial five month period from September 2019 to January 2020 with students from the San Juan/Barataria/Aranguez catchment area as well as a contingent from the Tableland Sports Club, though more participants are welcomed.

Can Bou Play CEO Amiel Mohammed urged more collaboration between sporting, governmental and corporate agencies to allow for programs such as Sport In Mind to flourish.

Guests at the Sport In Mind launch complete the puzzle after each being given one piece 

“We can’t keep operating in silos," Mohammed stated.

 

Through true and honest collaboration we could really make a difference. The puzzle that I invited everyone to assemble here today represents just that. Everyone has their own unique piece to add to the larger puzzle to make it great.”

“Can Bou Play is truly proud of our collaboration with Mindology and having great partnerships with Creamery Novelties (Hadco), Dairy Distributors Limited, Republic Bank, Agility Sports, HD Media and of course the Ultimate Indoor Facility for Sport In Mind.”

“Everything is a cycle. When our founders and coaches come to the S.I.M. sessions they are also going to learn from Alexandria and that would only improve their skillsets to be used when they then go out to our outreaches in communities, schools, differently-abled institutes etc,” Mohammed concluded.

Those interested in joining the Sport In Mind sessions or partnering with the “only program of its kind at the developmental level of youth sport in Trinidad” as Olton describes it, can contact Can Bou Play Foundation or Mindology at their respective social media pages or visit the Ultimate Indoor Facility.

If we as Mindology Trinidad and the Can Bou Play foundation, together with local businesses, are able to provide a program that can act as a method of prevention, or as a support mechanism for our youth who are suffering, prone to experiencing mental ill-health or simply looking for an escape…Then why shouldn’t we?” - Alexandria Olton.