Hockey video aims to raise awareness about teen suicide; Juno winner pitches in for mental-health campaign
Don't Stop Stompin.' That's the message Osgoode musician Larry Pegg wants to convey with The Hockey Project.
The father of two lost one of his daughters to suicide six years ago. Because his daughter was an avid fan of hockey - Pegg started The Hockey Project to help raise awareness about mental health issues and teen suicide.
The latest campaign Hockey is Great. LIFE is BIGGER, started with the release of a song called Don't Stop Stompin' co-written by Pegg and Juno award-winner Edmund Eagan.
The song is to be played during a film that will have flash-mob like crowd of hockey players, sporting jerseys from across the country.
The film - created by Dan Rascal Films and directed by Craig Conoley - opens on Lucky Ron, the pseudonym of Ottawa musician Ron Burke, performing in the midst of action in a game. Two players are penalized and sent to the penalty box - which represents stigma, isolation and depression. The scene then goes dark, showing only the two players in the penalty boxes, who are then joined by what Pegg describes as a Michael Jackson thriller-esque ice dance.
"Twenty per cent of Canadians are affected by mental health in their lifetime. That would be one out of five skaters on the ice," Pegg said. "You take a player off and the team will lose, the message is we need you on the team, as a nation and as a family."
Dan Mooney, who works as an announcer with the Ottawa 67's said he's involved with the project - playing the role of announcer in the video - because of his friendship with Pegg and because he believes in the cause.
"If we can save even one life then it's worth it," Mooney said. "My nieces are both 15 and so this resonates with me. It's a tremendously difficult world to grow up in. Teens have to deal with so much more than we had to when we were growing up."
Pegg said he wanted to harness the power of hockey to help raise awareness for the issue in the days leading up to the Olympics in Sochi.
"We live in a nation where half the people have some connection to the sport," he said. "We want to harness that power, have every arena stomping."
The video is meant to a tribute to Stomping Tom Connor's The Hockey Song. It will be distributed during the Olympic Games.
The short film featuring Lucky Ron was done from Feb. 4 to 6 at Canadian International Hockey Academy in Rockland. It will launch locally Feb. 14 at the Perth Blue Wings home game.
Burke said as a long-time musician and local icon, he was happy to lend his name to the cause.
Pegg said the film involved volunteers and jerseys representing teams across the country.
Among the jerseys are the Lloydminster Bobcats from Saskatchewan and the Ottawa 67's. The movement has even gone international with contributions from a dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia, England, Russia and Japan.
Pegg said the video will raise money for Do it For Daron, a charity established after the suicide death of Daron Richardson. He said he also wants to use the momentum to raise money to produce a documentary on mental health and teen suicide.
He already has Dr. Raffath Sayeed, a head injury specialist, lined up as one of the speakers.
"We have enough material for a 15 to 30-minute documentary, depending on the funding we get," Pegg said. "We might even have enough to do an hour."
Whatever the end product is, the point is to send out positive energy and let teens know they aren't alone.
"I don't think kids know what a hole they leave behind," Pegg said. "The message we want to convey is don't give up on life."
For more information about the project, visit www.thehockeyproject.ca.