Basketball Camp Works to Improve Mental Health of Student Athletes

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The M-Pact Basketball Academy concluded its 6-week program at CREC Civic Leadership High School in Enfield, helping young athletes improve both of and off the court.

Along with basketball drills, campers improved their conditioning, worked out in the weight room and received social and emotional support. Organizers Chris Prescott and Steve Samuels, who received a grant to put on the camp, put an emphasis on mental health.

"It was super important for us to develop them off the court as well," said co-founder Chris Prescott. "A lot of the opportunities they have in life will come off the court, so its important for us to give them social emotional development because a lot of them have missed school, the social interaction they got from team sports, recreation sports and to have it all in one place where they can come in the summer time is special thing we wanted to do."

"We wanted to make sure this camp was about mind, body and spirit," added co-founder Steve Samuels. "Helping them have life skills and career readiness."

About 50 athletes attended the final day of camp and reflected on some of the lessons learned over the course of the program.

"I really liked the classroom aspect of it," said Jaydon Buckle. "I've gone to a lot of basketball camps that don't teach the life skills we need, but they really show us a lot and how it's just as important to hold yourself off the court as it is on the court."

"They taught us everything, not just basketball but also how to become a young man," said Cam Morrel.

"It's so important because after being in the house, you kind of learn to lose those skills and you don't get to be outside like that," said Jaelen Mitchell. "You lose your touch with people. This camp was definitely a great experience to reconnect, and click and touch back down to earth with people."

The camp was free for the student athletes and they were provided transportation from the Hartford area.

Samuels and Prescott are hoping to continue to mentor young athletes, helping them improve on and off the court.

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