March 14th, 2012
Second Annual Flag Football Camp in Thompson, Manitoba
Thompson, Manitoba will be the site again this year for the Second Annual Flag Football Camp, whose aim is to promote “life” through sport and prevent suicide.
Kurtis Stolth, organizer of the event, is an alumnus of Manitoba Bison’s Football and relocated to Thompson, Manitoba to work with the Community Mental Health Team. In addition, he has become involved with the Burntwood Suicide Prevention Committee that is coordinated by the Burntwood Regional Health Authority.
The region’s rate of attempted suicide in persons aged 10 years and up is 4 times the provincial rate. The Burntwood Region makes up 54% of the province and is spread over 210,000 square miles. The population is 50,000, with 47% being under the age of 19 years. 76% of the population declares aboriginal descent and 51% are living on reserves. Of the 26 communities, 19 are First Nations Communities, 7 are Northern Affairs communities and only 12 of these communities have road access. All of the other communities are reliant on rail, air or winter roads for travel.
The initial camp included 185 youths registered, 50% from outlying communities, such as God’s River, Brochet, Split Lake, Nelson House, Lac Brochet, Lynn Lake, St. Theresa Point and Nelson House. The Suicide Prevention Committee was provided with 20 flag football packages from Football Canada which were sent into the communities shortly after the camp and we have been advised that many of these youth are still playing football in their communities. Last year’s camp had major support from the community, including over 40 volunteers and a partnership with McDonald’s who dedicated the McHappy Day proceeds to the event.
Last year, packages were sent out to 20 communities that included enough football equipment to start a league. The Committee partnered with the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Football Manitoba, Football Canada and the Winnipeg Rifles. Twenty coaches from the University of Manitoba which included current players, coaches and alumni attended. Glen January and Buck Pierce from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were in attendance and Troy Westwood opened the camp. From Football Manitoba, two instructors attended the weekend to certify individuals from the communities in refereeing and coaching. Through heavy sponsorship from the province youth were provided with dry fit t-shirts, water bottles, mouth guards, playbooks, meals and insurance. Everyone who attended the camp shared their skills and passion for the game of football and assisted the youth by being positive role models and teaching them a game that is non-existent in the north.
This year’s camp will take place June 1-3, 2012 and will be open to the first 200 youth who sign up from the ages of 11- 17. Coaches from the Manitoba Bison’s and the Winnipeg Rifles will be at the camp. While the kids are enjoying the weekend, adults and chaperones will have the opportunity to be trained and certified by Football Manitoba to be coaches and referees. The coaches and referees would return to their communities with a package to start their own leagues.
“The vision is to have youth attend from every community in the Region.” Said Curtis.
For more information about the event please contact Kurtis Stolth at (204) 677-5364 or the Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Liz Lychuk, at (204) 778 6513, extension 1.