Bullying was officially dunked on at Kenaston School last week.
A handful of professional athletes made the trip out to the community on Wednesday afternoon, March 11 to play a special basketball game against both the boys and girls teams representing the hometown Kenaston Kodiaks.
It was all a part of the Saskatchewan Rattlers’ ‘Dunk Out Bullying’ tour, in its second year. The tour sees pro athletes visit a number of schools to spread a positive message about stamping out bullying and challenging that school’s team to a friendly – and wildly entertaining – game of basketball.
On hand in front of a raucous crowd at Kenaston School was Charleston Hughes, defensive lineman for the Roughriders, who was also the unofficial host of the afternoon’s proceedings. Joining Hughes was Nik Lewis, former CFL player and two-time Grey Cup winner; Mitch Picton, wide receiver for the Roughriders; and Lawrence Moore, who plays for the Rattlers basketball team.
This is the second year for the tour which made successful inroads with its message in 2019. The tour began on March 4 and will continue until March 25 hitting 5 schools during the month of March. St. Louis School in Patuanak on the English River First Nation is the first stop followed by visits to Father Vachon and Chief Whitecap Schools in Saskatoon.
The program is a natural fit with the Rattlers organization says President and COO, Lee Genier.
“At the Rattlers, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and accessible to everyone. Our involvement in this program is paramount as it aligns perfectly with our values and beliefs. We believe that by coming together through the game of basketball we can make a big difference with our message in these communities and across the province.”
In front of the Kenaston crowd, Hughes emphasized how sports can help reduce bullying and build up one’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
“We need more superheroes in the world; people who won’t stand back and will do something,” said Hughes, touching on the need for more bullying witnesses to step in.
“It’s important for all of you to know how important you are,” added Lewis. “The best thing you can be is unique. You seniors help set the standard for the whole school; be unique. There’s a group waiting for you to take it to the next level, so don’t worry so much about fitting in right now.”
Outside of the group’s anti-bullying message, the most electrifying part of the afternoon was the basketball game between the athletes the hosting Kodiaks. Even teachers got into the action, with several of them donning a Rattlers jersey and going up against their young student athletes. The resident mascot Kodiak even managed to get into the court frenzy, though his dunking skills may need some work in the event of a rematch in the future.
When all was said and done, the athletes took the victory at a score of 75-59, but this was a game in which everyone was a winner for taking part.
In all the fun after the game’s conclusion, including autographs, pictures and a group shot underneath the Kodiaks sign in the gym, it was clear that the day had brought everyone at Kenaston School together and unified them as one, which is perhaps the biggest opponent of bullying in the end.