Tackling mental health through sport: Laureus launches global online forum

Laureus Olympic legends Edwin Moses, Yang Yang, Li Xaiopeng and Cameron van der Burgh, rugby stars Sean Fitzpatrick and Nolli Waterman and surfing sensation Garrett McNamara will join 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.
The event, taking place online from 1 – 3 December, aims to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing among young people today, and showcase specific ways in which sport and physical activity can be used to address the challenges young people face.
Across the three-day online Forum, Laureus Academy Members and Ambassadors will be joined by sport for development leaders and mental wellbeing specialists for open discussions on the specific impact sport can have in addressing the mental challenges young people in Hong Kong and around the world face.
Mental Health Forum Promo Video
For Laureus Sport for Good, mental health and wellbeing of disadvantaged and vulnerable young people is a key focus area, and the impact the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on the young people in Laureus-supported programmes has been exacerbated.
Studies have found that:
  • One in three young people in Hong Kong suffer from stress, anxiety or depression (Hong Kong Playground Association Survey, South China Morning Post, 2018)
  • As many as 58% of local surveyed teenagers suffer from sleep deprivation.  This, in turn, could have an adverse effect on their physical health and mental health (Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2017)
  • Just over half of secondary school pupils showed signs of depression, and even more alarmingly almost 24 per cent of pupils had considered committing suicide two weeks before the survey, with around 1.9 per cent saying they would really do so if they had a chance (2015 City-wide survey)
Laureus currently supports 19 programmes in eight countries across Asia, using sport to transform the lives of more than 35,000 disadvantaged young people. Advocating for the work Laureus supports in Hong Kong are nine Hong Kong Ambassadors; including former world champion windsurfer Lee Lai Shan, world champion cyclist Wong Kam Po, badminton star Amy Chan Lim Chee, triathlete Daniel Lee Chi Wo, rowing master Malina Ngai Man Lin, swimming stars Alex Fong Lik Sun, Sherry Tsai Hiu Wai and Vivian Lee Ying Shih and fencer Ron Lee Chung Man.
“In 2020, the mental health and wellbeing of the young people we support is incredibly important,” said Laureus Academy Member and 400m hurdling great Edwin Moses. “At Laureus Sport for Good, we truly believe in the power sport can have in enhancing mental wellbeing and encouraging healthy changes in the behaviour of young people with mental health challenges. From surfing to boxing, we’ve seen the positive impact sport can have. This event will enable us to speak openly, share experiences and ensure we are supporting young people as best we can.”
“How we handle pressure and personal stresses is at the heart of who we are,” said Laureus Academy Member and China’s first Winter Olympic champion Yang Yang. “But no-one should have to handle this alone.  As athletes, we all know the pressure of competition, training and real life.  There are so many people who struggle with the conflicting pressures they are under and need to be encouraged to ask for help or to be told it is ok to do so.  I hope that is what we can do with the Forum – really make people understand mental health is something which affects us all.”
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. It operates under the fundamental belief that the achievement of this ambition is best delivered by ending the social issues that affect the younger generation and changing their lives for the better.
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.

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