At least one Fort McMurray group of kids is showing others how to be resilient.
The Wood Buffalo Basketball League is youth league teaching kids life skills through basketball.
Executive Director Kevis Wilson says the league began about a year ago with 12 youth and has grown to include about 100 children from age five to 17.
“We believe that basketball is not just a physical sport, it’s both mental and physical. And it’s been proven that basketball 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical, so we base our league around that,” says Wilson.
Wilson says it’s not just about basketball, as they want to see the young players become positive influences on the community.
He says the players and even their parents are being taught how to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.
Wilson says it became evident in the early days of the evacuation that the life skills being taught were being put into action.
“Throughout the last year, the life skills tht we’ve been teaching them has manifested into them coming here (Edmonton), being ripped away from their home, they started calling us and asking us ‘Are we still going in a tournament?’,” says Wilson
Wilson says the team ended up playing a few school teams in Sherwood Park and this led them to decide to create the WBBL Wellness Tour, to give back to the Edmonton Area. They’ll be playing basketball and teaching coping skills to other youth over the next two weeks.
He says the players have been through a lot since the fire and their response to it is reinforcement for what leaders have helped the children learn.
“And that kind of opened up our eyes, to say, yeah, that what we’re doing, is actually working, these kids are actually mentally tough. A lot of adults are struggling with the situation and these teenagers are coping and being resilient,” adds Wilson.
The team hopes to be back up and running in Fort McMurray by the end of June.
More information can be found here.