Multiple Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) medal winner, Nikoli Blackman and some of his fellow athletes yesterday got a chance to speak with some of their peers when the British High Commission and the Heroes Foundation hosted "Conversations on Sports and Mental Health" at Queen's Hall, St Ann's.
The event brought together former T&T athletes Jehue Gordon, Cleopatra Borel, Thema Williams and Rayad Emrit who spoke of their experiences. Joining Blackman at Queen's Hall yesterday, were fellow multiple CYG medal-winners Matthew Ward and Holly McGill from Scotland; Nick Finch and Skye Carter from England, who also set new Commonwealth Youth Games records, and Anguiilan athlete Sage Connor.
The event was broken up into two sessions, with Gordon, Borel, Williams and Emrit speaking in the first, in conversation with multimedia journalist, producer and anchor, Ryan Bachoo.
The second session was facilitated by British High Commission Head of Political and Press, Chinali Patel, in conversation with the CYG athletes.
The event opened with welcoming remarks from British High Commissioner Harriet Cross who said: "Sports can have a profound and positive impact on mental well-being, including improving your mood and fostering discipline. It can bring together communities, help forge lifelong friendships and take you to different places. The athletes will share with you how they have dealt with successes and failures and how sports play a role in their mental well-being."
In his remarks, David Roberts, Permanent Secretary in the of Ministry of Sport and Community Development, reminded the youth that "they were all winners and have much to contribute to wider communities and society."
Also speaking was Heroes Foundation CEO Lawrence Arjoon, who thanked the athletes for sharing their stories and encouraged the young participants to work hard towards their dream. He noted: "Young people have the power to shape an extraordinary world. It starts by believing in yourself and then, by collaborating and by being responsible global citizens. The impact of sports goes beyond just the games. You're building communities, your developing critical skills, and you're doing it together. Imagine what else you can achieve by working together, learning from one another and those who have gone before you, sharing your diverse perspectives and skills to help solve complex problems."
Various questions were put to the athletes from youth on how they dealt with anxiety, daily pressures, leading a happy life, effects of social media and preparing for games to more light-hearted questions on music they like listening to get them motivated ahead of a game, diet of a sportsperson and their favourite memories of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Heroes Foundation, which aims to inspire and empower children and youth to find the hero within themselves and to build a safe and sustainable future, brought over 400 youths from 14 organisations throughout Trinidad and Tobago to Queen's Hall.