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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Basketball camp for youth mental health

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‘Optimise Me’ basketball camp breaking for lunch at Cherry Street Sports. Photo supplied.

Recently the ASK Youth team was in action at the Ballina Indoor Sports Centre, delivering the ‘Optimise Me’ basketball camp to a large group of local kids.

Forty local young people aged 10-16 years participated in skills, drills, games and activities that taught them strategies they can use on and off the court, including self awareness, breath work, mindfulness, nutrition, goals setting, problem solving, mindset, communication and leadership.

Kellie Coates is the Director of ASK Youth. (ASK stands for Ask, Support and Knowledge). She said her team was elated when Cherry Street Sports joined them to support the program. ‘The whole purpose of this program, and what we do at ASK, is to teach kids useful and effective preventative strategies they can implement to help themselves, and others.

‘We have now been able to reach 40 kids as a result of Cherry Street Sports’ support, and this has a flow-on effect into their homes and the community. We are here to change the way we take action in the mental health space,’ she said.

‘Optimise Me’ basketball camp at BISC. Photo supplied.

Prevention is the cure

‘Prevention is the cure, movement is medicine and basketball is one sport all of our team have benefited from,’ said Ms Coates.

‘We also run programs in schools and before and after school that are not just basketball related. Movement is the key to opening the door to great mental health.’

She explained ASK Youth delivers Preventative Mental Health and Wellbeing programs for tweens and teens using movement, games and fun to teach skills they can use to prevent mental health problems.

The team includes highly trained and experienced role models from the local area, including a mental health first aid trainer and advocate, an athlete and psychosocial recovery and movement coach, and a youth coach with 23 years experience in health education, all working to deliver content ‘from a space of lived experience.’

Kellie Coates says the ASK Youth team are passionate about what they do, and devoted to improving youth mental health.

‘Each coach brings their own experience as an athlete and with mental health to the floor, and they share with the kids what they’ve learned about what to do when they’re not feeling great; teaching strategies to use both on and off the court.’

‘Optimise Me’ basketball camp at BISC. Photo supplied.

Positive feedback

Kellie Coates said 100 per cent of participants surveyed said they would recommend ‘Optimise Me’ to a friend.

Participant Lachlan’s mum said her son really enjoyed the camp. ‘He loved learning the new basketball skills from the excellent coaches, playing the 6 on 6 basketball game. He particularly enjoyed the breathwork component of the program.

‘My son suffers from a fair bit of anxiety and although he was excited about going to the camp, when he got there on the first day got quite overwhelmed when he saw all the other kids already there.

‘He asked to go home straight away but one of the coaches took him and helped him to integrate with the other kids. He came home that afternoon raving about the day he had and excited about everything he learnt.

‘He really appreciated all the help and care he got from all the coaches and is still talking about the camp. Hoping he will choose basketball as the sport he wants to join this year! Thank you to all the coaches.’

‘Optimise Me’ basketball camp at BISC. Photo supplied.

One young participant said, ‘Thoroughly enjoyed, inspiring coaches, well organised and learnt lots!’

Ms Coates said the ASK Youth team was open to speaking to potential sponsors so they can do more preventative mental health programs around the region.

‘We have student, staff, and parent specific workshops and programs that we would love to bring to our local school communities,’ she said.

‘We work on the premise that good health is role modelled, and we want to share the knowledge, skills and strategies that students, staff and parents can use to improve their health and wellbeing and prevent mental health problems.’

Check out a video with some highlights from Ballina’s ‘Optimise Me’ camp below:

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