By Tammy Schneider
Garrett McFadden is an accomplished young man. Raised in Kincardine, he spent five years playing for the Guelph Storm hockey club, and is now a student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, where he plays for the school team. In 2011, 16-year-old family friend Wes Cameron died by suicide. The loss shocked his family, friends and the community and was cruel reminder that suicide can happen to anyone, even those that seem to have it all. After his third year with the Storm, McFadden had a desire to develop a program that would address the issues youth in athletics sometimes face. After collaborating with Storm community relations coordinator Stephanie Coratti, he created McFadden’s Movement. It would focus on elevating mental health awareness among young athletes. The organization is just three years old, but McFadden has already spoken in schools and to teams. He recounts his own experiences with injuries, disappointment when not making a team or not performing to his potential. He has lived through what many athletes may currently be experiencing, and can tell them first-hand that frustrations don’t mean kids should quit or feel badly about themselves. Playing sports should be about having fun. McFadden’s Movement has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association, and when he makes presentations to groups he is accompanied by one of its representatives, someone who is qualified to address specific concerns and crisis. The organization has spearheaded a number of fundraising events. Storm fans were invited to donate and take part in 50/50 draws. A road hockey tournament on June 8 in Guelph saw 27 teams with players of all ages take part. Sponsors from the Kincardine area included Ainsdale Golf Club and Steve Tiffin, owner of Davey-Linklater Funeral Home.
All proceeds from fundraising have been split between Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington and Wes for Youth. The family of Wes Cameron, in an effort to see some good come from the loss of their son, created the Wes for Youth Online counselling service in 2013. Since launched, the service has connected with over 1,500 youth. To date, McFadden has split $40,000 between the two organizations. Dan McFadden, Garrett’s father, is extremely proud of his son and the work he has done. “He is a good leader, a good hockey player and volunteer,” said the senior McFadden. “He focuses his energy on kids.”