September 10, 2021
In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week in the US (Sep 5 – 11), Boston Massachusetts' first Professional Rugby team, The New England Free Jacks, partnered with Stay in the Game Network member Doc Wayne Youth Services, Inc to leverage sports therapy to support youth and coaches. Their youth-focused "Game Ready" campaign brings mental health to the forefront to fight stigmas and provide practical resources for use on and off the field.
The Free Jacks encompass six New England states with players from 13 different countries. As each player is a coach, the team felt it was vital to raise awareness on the connection of sport and mental health in line with their diversity and inclusiveness goals. They believe in educating and sharing resources on checking in on the wellness and mental health of teammates, family and friends, which is why they reached out to Doc Wayne. For the campaign, the non-profit ensured that mental health and wellness resources were accessible, so that everyone could "Show Up Game Ready."
Boston-based non-profit, Doc Wayne, reimagines therapy through the lens of sport with an award-winning curriculum that supports coaches and 67,000 youth in 25 countries. Its Champions Network™ digital certification program launched in June 2021 to professionalize sport-based therapy and support increasing numbers of youth and families facing mental health challenges. The online resource for coaches, clinicians and teachers provide guidance on fundamental and trauma-informed mental health skills that leverage sport and community-based therapies.
As part of the campaign, The Free Jacks are running some activations including a video series with their players around the world, exploring how they prepare for a professional match and highlighting their game ready mental preparation that goes into getting ready for a professional match. This series will explore the values that overlap being game ready for the field and how that impacts day-to-day readiness through Doc Wayne's core pillars highlighted. These focused pillars include teamwork, communication, resilience and confidence to ensure mental health and wellness are accessible for all.
As part of The Free Jacks activities, they will organize a time to learn more about the Champions Network and training for the Free Jacks Academy coaches to build mental health support into the youth and high school programs that they run year-round.
In addition, The Free Jacks are currently looking into a community touch rugby tournament aiming to take place late September or early October this year. The goal of the tournament will be under the game ready umbrella and bring young players into the game of rugby around the pillars of the campaign.