UMD NAMED 2022 DIVISION II AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER
Twenty-six schools were finalists for the 2022 NCAA Division II Achievement Award, but only one could be named a recipient of one of the NCAA’s most prestigious awards. The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs were honored today as the recipient of the 2022 NCAA Division II Achievement Award at the NCAA National Convention for their work with Project Green Bandana and mental health awareness. This is the first time in the history of Bulldog athletics that they have received this award. The NCAA Achievement Award recognizes initiatives from the past year that exemplify Division II philosophy, community involvement and student-athlete leadership. Each finalist received $500 and in addition, the winner will receive $2,500 to be used for future SAAC (student-athlete advisory committee) initiatives or community engagement events.
“Bulldog Athletics is exceptionally humbled and honored to accept one of the NCAA’s most prestigious awards on behalf of our student-athletes and their incredible mental health efforts,” said UMD athletic director . Josh Berlo. “Every Bulldog team has supported the Green Bandana initiative and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) at the University of Minnesota Duluth first engaged with the Green Bandana Project initiative in the fall of 2019 as a mental health education and awareness campaign , which morphed into a student body of 55 student-athletes, representing all 16 campus teams at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. The 3 goals of the campaign are: 1) To decrease the stigma of mental illness within our athletic department/university, 2) To support those struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts, and 3) To spread health resources mental.
“I started and pushed for this campaign because I wished something like this existed when I was a freshman,” said Becca Osborne, Bulldog women’s soccer student-athlete, campaign president/founder. . “Seeing where our project started, what it has become has truly been an amazing experience to be part of. What makes it so special is that no one has done it. It took partnerships between our students -athletes, coaches, administrators and other organizations to become the campaign it is today. There is no better way to describe the impact it has had than to explain the people that She helped. No one should ever feel alone, and over the past three years we’ve made sure people know they matter in this world, that it’s okay to be unwell and that it’s okay. It’s okay to ask for help.”
This campaign inspired Bulldog student-athletes to take mental health awareness to the next level by partnering with campus counseling services, community mental health professionals and other student-focused groups. mental health. Thanks to these partnerships, the idea of hosting MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS GAMES for all 16 teams in the 2020-2021 academic years, despite the challenges of reduced capacity due to COVID-19.
“We are so honored to receive the Award of Excellence. It has been a joy to see the passion of a few student-athletes for mental health awareness spread among our student-athletes, campus and local community over the past few years. “, said Laura Schnell, director of academic support and student-athlete welfare. “The Green Bandana Project will have a lasting impact on the culture of our department, as we continue to work to end the stigma.”
The UMD Green Bandana Project planned and executed these awareness games which saw both teams wearing awareness shirts, creating awareness videos and messaging throughout the day on social media, in person and via a live television broadcast of the game. These games continued for all spring sports: softball, baseball, tennis and track and field; and led to UMD Athletic Department administration’s approval of an outreach game for each team in the department for the 2021–22 school year. With the help of the UMD Green Bandana Project, each team has a platform to talk about mental health and use their own voice. UMD Health Services counseling staff also speak to each team individually during the week of their outreach game. Through these games and platforms that UMD student-athletes have created for themselves, the campaign message is spreading even further than Duluth. Thousands of fans attend these awareness games and the message touches everyone. From parents, to sisters, to grandparents; people everywhere are reaching out to the campaign in person or via social media to explain the positive impact the UMD Green Bandana project has had on their lives. Many current and former student-athletes have identified the campaign message as a key reason they felt supported enough to reach out for help.
“I joined the Green Bandana Project because I wanted to help support a campaign I believed in growing up in,” said Bulldog softball student-athlete Jordyn Thomas, campaign vice president. “Born into a Bulldog family, UMD has always been my home, and to be able to give back to my community is an honor. This award shows all the hard work and dedication that everyone has put into spreading our message. have been difficult in so many ways, and we want everyone to know that it’s okay not to be well. I truly believe that Bulldog Country is a family.
From the start, it was clear that the UMD Green Bandana project had a platform to create real change in the community of Duluth, Minnesota. The success of this initiative is evident when you walk around campus and see the thousands of green bandanas attached to the backpacks of Bulldog students. These green bandanas signify that those who wear them are mental health advocates and will support anyone feeling impacted by mental health, and can direct them to mental health resources (a resource card is handed out with each bandana).
“The greatest part of this amazing honor is that it was 100% student-led,” said Karen Stromme, Senior Associate Athletic Director – Internal Operations and Senior Administrator. “We are grateful that Division II has recognized our “total package” student-athletes who have made a difference to mental health on our campus and in our community!”
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