CENTRE WELLINGTON – The Centre Wellington Minor Lacrosse Association (CWMLA) is hosting a webinar on diversity in sport and mental health awareness.
Entitled “Strength in our Community,” the May 13 webinar is open to the public and will be offered in partnership with 519 Sports Online.
Damon Edwards, a 10-year veteran of the National Lacrosse League and member of the Toronto Rock, will talk about diversity and inclusion in sport, as well as his experiences being a racial minority in the sport of lacrosse.
Edwards created a program called DAMON 45, to speak about the difficult topics of diversity and inclusion.
Covering mental health and suicide awareness will be Myrna Hutchison from #GetInTouchForHutch, an educational and suicide prevention organization founded in 2013 following the death of her son, Steven Hutchison.
“As we find ourselves once again in the midst of a provincial lockdown, your [CWMLA] wanted to take the opportunity to engage with the community and bring us together to learn about important issues in our world today,” states a release from the association’s organizing committee.
“A community can weather a storm much better when they are united, so let’s get together and learn ways to support each other as we continue to prepare for the end of this pandemic, return to normal, and return to sport.”
CWMLA vice president Kasey Beirnes, one of the organizers, said he’s excited about the event.
“I was fortunate to have the privilege to play alongside Damon with the Toronto Rock for many years,” said Beirnes.
“He is the definition of an athlete, a competitor, and great teammate. He is a true ambassador.”
Beirnes continued, “I have had the honour to listen to Myrna speak at an Ontario Lacrosse event. Through her tragic life experience, she is so dedicated to end the stigma with mental health. Her message is very powerful and connects to individuals of all ages.”
Noting he played in a #GetInTouchForHutch fundraising lacrosse game several years ago, Beirnes said, “it was tremendous to see all the volunteers and supporters pulling a community together for such a great organization.”
CWMLA executive member and coach Wayne England has been involved in the sport locally for over six decades – as a player, coach, referee, and now as an executive.
He looks forward to the upcoming virtual event and reflected on the importance of diversity in the sport.
“Lacrosse is community, and our lacrosse community certainly needs to include everyone,” England said.
“We must continue to grow our lacrosse community.”
He called the “Strength in our Community” webinar “an excellent opportunity” and “a great way to stay connected with the game, to learn, and to appreciate how we might make positive changes and help grow the game of lacrosse.”
Although he is disappointed the current lacrosse season has been put on hold, England said virtual events like this one are important.
“It is so important that we stay connected to our passions – like the sport of lacrosse, especially during the pandemic,” he said.
“This keeps us hopeful that soon we will be back in the arenas.”
England, who has seen his sons and grandsons grow up playing lacrosse, said focusing on diversity and mental health within the sport will be beneficial for future generations.
“If we continue to make positive changes in the game of lacrosse, the game will continue to be an important part of our community,” he said.
“It will continue to grow, continue to be healthy, both physically and mentally, and of most of all, continue to be a fun game for everyone.
“What we do to improve the game of lacrosse today will hopefully make it a better game for our children tomorrow.”
519 Sports Online owner Darren Stevenson, who will be moderating the event, said listening to other people’s experiences is more important now than it ever has been.
“This is a great initiative by [CWMLA] to hear different perspectives,” he said. “These are very important messages to share.”
Stevenson added, “in a time of difficulty for many people, talking is important.”
The virtual event, set for May 13 at 6:30pm, is free for the public to join. Pre-registration is recommended to guarantee a spot.
For information on how to register visit www.cwmla.com. A Google doc, accessible through the website, will allow people to follow along with the webinar.