LAUREUS OLYMPIC LEGENDS UNITE WITH ONE MESSAGE:
THE MENTAL HEALTH LEGACY OF COVID-19 MUST BE ADDRESSED
- Olympic legends and members of Laureus Family encourage the sport for development sector to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing among disadvantaged young people
- Speaking at the Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum, the sporting stars open up on their own challenges and break taboo around mental health and wellbeing
- ‘At Laureus, the research is proving that the work we are supporting is making a difference to the mental health and wellbeing of disadvantaged young people, and we need to keep that up’ – says Laureus Academy Member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses
- Forum comes as surveys show marked decline in mental health across the world following Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions on sport
- For highlights and re-caps of the online discussions, click here
December 7, 2020 – As Olympians and athletes they have stood on podiums, enjoyed international acclaim and have taken home the most coveted prizes in their respective sports, but a group of global sporting stars have united to underlined the crisis in mental health among young people and how sport can play a role in reversing this.
Speaking at the inaugural Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum – an online event presented by EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust – sports stars were joined by representatives from Laureus-supported mental health and wellbeing programmes from around the world, as well as global leaders from the mental health and wellbeing sector.
Laureus Olympic legends including 400m hurdling legend Edwin Moses, four-time Olympic gold medallist, Li Xiaopeng, China’s first winter gold medallist Yang Yang, and South African swimming stars Cameron van der Burgh and Natalie du Toit were joined by rugby stars Sean Fitzpatrick and Nolli Waterman with surfing legend Garrett McNamara.
The international field was joined by Laureus Hong Kong Ambassadors Lee Lai Shan, Wong Kam Po, Malina Ngai Man Lin, Alex Fong Lik Sun, top fencer Vivian Kong and swimmer Yvette Kong for the inaugural EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme: Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing through Sport Regional Forum.
Throughout the three-day Forum, participants heard how Covid-19 has affected the mental health and well-being of young people all over the world, as a result of lockdowns, restrictions and the loss of social interaction, sport and wider opportunities for self-development.
The Forum showcased the pioneering Model City Hong Kong initiative, which is convening like-minded organisations with the goal of working together to use sport to make a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of young people in the region as restrictions ease and activities return. The event also discussed the transformational mental health and wellbeing benefits of sport – particularly surfing, which will make an Olympic debut in Tokyo next year and swimming. Participants also heard about how sport is building resilience and tackling depression and anxiety in young people in Northern Ireland.
Laureus Academy Member Edwin Moses, who won Olympic 400m hurdling gold at the 1976 and 1982 Olympics, and was unbeaten for nine years, nine months and nine days, a streak of 122 consecutive race wins in the 400-meter hurdles, including 107 finals races, believes that sport is the perfect tool to support young people with mental health challenges:
“Globally, we have all been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but as one of our inspirational programme leaders rightly said during the Forum, young people in many communities around the world are also being impacted by mental health and wellbeing epidemics. At the highest level, the mental side of sport is crucial, but of most importance is the role sport can play in supporting young people with mental health challenges. At Laureus, the research is proving that the work we are supporting is making a difference to the mental health and wellbeing of disadvantaged young people, and we need to keep that up.”
Laureus Academy Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, a legend of All Blacks rugby who played in 63 consecutive Test matches for his country, spoke about the positive conversations that took place throughout the Forum, and encouraged participants to continue those conversations in the future.
“The transformational programmes we support through Laureus Sport for Good are doing incredible work in their communities around the world,” said Sean. “Throughout the Forum, we heard current and former athletes, mental health professionals and sport for development programme leaders talk about the positive role sport can play in supporting young people with mental health challenges. If there’s one thing we should all take away from this event, it’s that we need to keep moving forward, keep these conversations going and keep changing young lives for the better.”
Laureus Academy Member Yang Yang, who won 500m short track speed skating gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics, making history as China’s first Winter Olympic champion, spoke at the close of the Forum. Yang Yang urged the sport for development sector to continue the conversation on mental health and continue using sport as the tool to transform the lives of young people facing mental health and wellbeing challenges.
“Children and young people are our future, and mental health and wellbeing among young people is a subject we need to put at the top of our agendas in the coming months and years,” said Yang Yang. “Listening to the mental health and wellbeing experts discuss the transformational power of sport, and hearing the incredible people on the ground at our Sport for Good programmes has been inspirational. In sport and in life, we all come up against challenges and the global challenges in 2020 are no different. Working together, sharing knowledge and continuing the conversations we have had over these three days is going to be so important in us using sport to help build resilience and confidence in our young people.”
“Here in Asia and around the world, mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by vulnerable and disadvantaged young people are increasing,” said Laureus Academy Member and four-time Olympic champion Li Xiaopeng. “2020 has been a turbulent year globally, but it’s had a real impact on young people we are working with. Through the Forum, we all had the opportunity to reduce stigma, raise awareness and use sport to help young people build confidence and increase self-esteem, and that’s one of Laureus Sport for Good’s main priorities.”
Laureus Sport for Good is a global charity that supports children and young people by using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination, and disadvantage. Over the last 20 years, Laureus Sport for Good has raised more than €150m for the Sport for Development sector, reaching and helping change the lives of more than 6 million children and young people since 2000. Laureus Sport for Good currently supports more than 200 programmes in over 40 countries that use the power of sport to transform lives.
EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme Presents: Laureus Sport for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing Through Sport Regional Forum:
The three-day virtual Forum brings people from around the world together to share information and learning about mental health and wellbeing. The event will provide an open space for dialogue around mental health in young people, including young people’s exposure to anxiety, stress, depression and how a lack of knowledge and awareness about mental health can lead to stigma, discrimination and risk of suicide. Discussions will also focus on how social media can affect young people and their perception of themselves, as well as the topic of cyber-bullying. The overall aim of the Forum is to facilitate an ongoing conversation around how sport for development organisations can contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing among young people.
EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme:
Supported by Shatin District of Home Affairs Department offering venues at community centers and townhalls; Active Community Programme was first initiated by the Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association (HKEAA) in 2018 offering different sports activities and health talks to teenagers, elderlies, housewives and ladies. We aimed to encourage them to participate in sports activities, communicate with each other to create a close relationship so as to maintain a healthy lifestyle and social bonding. With funding from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust from July 2019, EACT Jockey Club Active Community Programme was extended to four districts, including Shatin, South District, Sham Shui Po District and Western and Central District organized total 144 coursers serving more than 2,500 participants.
This press release is issued by ActionHouse International on behalf of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Elite Athlete Charitable Trust.
Media Enquires: ActionHouse International
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