Hockey humanitarian Mattila joins KIJHL, spreads word on mental health: health pages

Hockey humanitarian Mattila joins KIJHL, spreads word on mental health

Hockey humanitarian Mattila joins KIJHL, spreads word on mental health

Uploaded by:- Kelowna Chiefs – @MindRight.info @MindCheck.ca (76986931@N04) @ 2017-07-24 13:15:52

Myles Mattila is celebrating the completion of his Grade 12 exams. The 18-year-old graduat- ed from high school in Prince George this year, but unlike some other teens his age, he won’t be relaxing at the lake all summer. That’s because Mattila is a big deal in British Columbia’s hockey world, for more than just his skills on the ice. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and the summer won’t see an end to that. The Quesnel native played for the Prince George Cariboo Cou- gars this season, and was signed to the Kelowna Chiefs for the
2017/18 season.
He recently won the BC Hockey
Chair of the Board Award, which recognizes an “individual, team or league that has brought hon- our to amateur hockey through an outstanding humanitarian endeavour.”
To that end, Mattila has been an outspoken advocate for men- tal health, having founded Mind- Right.info – the Cariboo Cou- gars’ support program that aims to increase awareness for mental health – in 2016, and having been a spokesperson for mental health awareness website Mindcheck.ca since 2015.
For these reasons, you may have heard of Mattila. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau certainly has.
On June 28, Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted: “A young player making a difference – con- gratulations @myles_mattila12 on your @BCHockey_Source award for promoting youth men- tal health.”
Mattila got the tweet while he was with his family. They were ecstatic.
“I was shocked…. I thought about it and I’m like, ‘Wow, that is amazing that Justin recognized me for what I’m doing with men- tal health.’”
Strong of mind
Mattila is a tireless promoter of mental-health initiatives.
He got involved after watching a teammate struggle.
“I had a close friend who played hockey, we were like the dynamic duo – we fed off each other for positive energy. It sud-
Hockey player Myles Mattila accepted the BC Hockey Chair of the Board Award from board chair Randy Henderson in early June at the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre during BC Hockey’s annual general meeting. The award recognized his work promoting mental health initiatives.
denly stopped, and he isolated himself from me and the team.
“He told me about how he was sad all the time, had highs and lows but didn’t know why. It was hard, seeing a teammate go through that and not know what it was.”
After his teammate sought help, Mattila saw an article in The Province about Mindcheck. ca and decided to get involved, but he wasn’t accepted to the cause quite that easily.
“I got shut down for promot- ing mental health, with people saying I was too young, that I didn’t know enough. But people seeing a person my age… it got my peers’ attention when I went to speak at schools.”
Mattila persevered.
“If you network with the right people, you can achieve your goals.”
BC Hockey board chair Randy Henderson says he is examining ways to promote Mattila’s work across his organization.
“Myles’ efforts are a result of compassion for fellow teammates and expanded to players every- where.
“Myles epitomizes why thou- sands of volunteers across BC Hockey donate so much time to the game. Hockey, from my perspective, is the conduit to pro-
duce great citizens, and Myles demonstrates what a good citizen does: he gives selflessly for a great many others.”
At BC Hockey’s annual general meeting in Sun Peaks in early June, Mattila’s MindRight ini- tiative was highlighted to 92 minor hockey associations in attendance.
Mattila was honoured to re- ceive the BC Hockey award, and was pleased Henderson was in- terested in rolling out MindRight and other mental-health initia- tives to other associations.
“Its nice to be recognized for what I’m doing. It’s nice to know people are hearing my message. A few years ago, it was very dif- ficult. No one wanted to talk about the subject.
“It’s getting better, but we have a long way to go to raise awareness.” Mattila’s move to Kelowna brings new challenges for his humanitarian work. He has part- nered with the Canadian Men- tal Health Association (CMHA) in Kelowna, and hopes to work with Foundry, a youth wellness organization supported by the provincial government that is opening a facility in Kelowna at the end of the summer, as well
as four others province-wide. Foundry Kelowna will have 25 agencies operating under one
roof, so young people can access all the services they need without bouncing around – and poten- tially getting lost – in the system.
Leah Lockhart, Foundry’s lead for communication, says Found- ry is delighted Myles is willing to get involved.
“It’s great to see a lot of young people coming forward to be a part of Foundry; our goal has been to build a robust youth network.
“Foundry is thrilled that Myles is enthusiastic and that he reached out.”
Top of his class
Come September, Mattila will be playing hockey, working on his mental-health initiatives and attending Okanagan College to get a degree in business.
The 18-year-old says he initially planned to attend The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan branch (UBCO) after being ac- cepted to the civil engineering program, but decided to switch to Okanagan College to give himself more time for hockey.
“I’m going to Okanagan Col- lege as they are more flexible with the hockey season. I was accept- ed to UBCO, but you need to be a full-time student. At Okana- gan College, I can have a light- er schedule in the first semester and then heavier in the second.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
That’ll help me excel in hockey and in school.”
It’ll also give him more time for his humanitarian work.
“In the week days I’ll be pro- moting mental health, too.”
He chose to sign with the Kelowna Chiefs, a member of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) and a Junior B hockey team, even after a few others expressed interest in signing him. He says Kelowna was the right fit.
“I’ve got everything in one in Kelowna. My family is living here, I get to go to school, I’m hoping to partner with Foundry. Junior B has fewer games and not as harsh a schedule.”
Mattila says he did some soul searching this year, knowing his time in the BC Major Midget League was coming to an end.
“I took some time to decide if I wanted to play Junior A and take a year or two off school, but I want to keep my options open and keep busy with school. I don’t want to fall behind. If something happened or if I got injured, this way I have a back-up plan.”
It’s a well-thought-out move from the 18-year-old, but every- thing in Mattila’s hockey career so far shows he’s nothing if not conscientious.
Hockey’s Myles Mattila, continued
The accomplished hockey player and honour-roll student won numerous scholar- ships as he finished out his Grade 12 year, and he says he’ll be putting them to good use.
“It’s a great honour, and helps me pay my tuition. So instead of working this summer, I have more time to collaborate and make connections with peo- ple in mental health.”
Mattila says he knows there are other players on the Chiefs who take classes, so he won’t be alone. He hopes to eventually qualify as a lawyer, although he’d be interested in play- ing hockey at a higher level, too.
“My plan is to play a few years in the Junior B league while going
‘We still have a long way to go to raise awareness’
Myles Mattila
to school. If I get a scholarship down to the States, I could go that route, or head to UBC [for hockey and academics] if that doesn’t pan out.”
As a member of the Kelowna Chiefs, Mat- tila will play a game in Quesnel this February, against rival KIJHL team the Kamloops Storm. The Storm is hosting six of its
2017/18 season games at the new West Fraser Centre, in an effort to promote Quesnel’s bid to have its own team.
“It’s exciting, espe- cially with the new hockey arena. I still have lots of connec- tions in Quesnel.
“It’s really important for Quesnel to show the league they need a hockey team back because Quesnel is a strong community.”
Next stop: the world
Now that he’s captured the Canadian audi- ence, attracting atten- tion from the Prime Minister, Mattila has his sights set on the international scene.
He applied for a bur- sary to attend a men- tal-health conference in Dublin, Ireland,
which takes place in September.
“It’s a mental-health summit. I want to go and share my ideas and what I’ve done with MindRight, and network for mental health.”
Mattila’s experience organizing Prince George’s Balancing Our Minds Youth Summit, which took place at the end of May, gives him some background with such events. The springtime summit saw students come from all over the province to inter- act with other youth, teachers, supervi- sors and counsellors around the topic of mental health.
“It was inspiring how many students came out, there were
some all the way from McBride.
“We even had a Bal- ancing Our Minds rep- resentative come from Vancouver to check it out. He said [our event] was up there as being one of the best in the province. We were pretty proud.”
And proud he should be. Mattila manages to spin many plates in the air with seemingly lit- tle effort.
But what about his social life? How does Mattila relax?
“That comes with hockey, and between other things. I like to have a well-rounded approach and focus on everything equally.
“I want to show that it’s possible to play a sport, go to school and promote an initiative.”

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