It has been nearly four and a half years since former Manitoba Moose forward Rick Rypien died by suicide.
Now, the mental health program named for his number is about to mark its first anniversary.
Project 11 helps teach kids about positive mental health awareness.
Suzi Friesen with Project 11 says they are piloting the program in 30 middle school classrooms.
“Middle school is a challenging time, so we’re really trying to get in early, getting kids comfortable to talk about what’s going on, what changes they’re going through, helping them be more self-aware throughout the lessons. They’re doing a lot of self-reflection.”
Manitoba Moose GM Craig Heisinger has been a big part of their efforts and explains that there is a lot of pressure on kids these days.
“I think social media really adds to the pressure. Rick understood it better than anybody, even though he was older at the time. One of his real mandates in life was to be able to help kids at this age group and at this level.”
Heisinger adds that they’re trying to show the students that it’s okay to talk about their problems and share when they they are feeling pain. 43 classrooms that piloted the program last year have incorporated Project 11 into their curriculum for this school year.