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NCCU SAAC Wins NCAA DI Mental Health Video Contest
Posted By: Elynor Moss on May 04, 2018

The NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) crowned a video submitted by the North Carolina Central University SAAC as the winner of a "Break the Stigma" contest open to all DI institutions promoting mental health awareness.

"I am extremely excited about this accomplishment," said Dr. Ingrid Wicker McCree, NCCU Director of Athletics. "I commend them on their creativity and innovation with this project, and congratulate them on winning this competition."

"I think it is super awesome for NCCU Athletics," said NCCU SAAC Vice President Miriam Duen. "It's really putting us out there on the map, not only as athletes but showing that we are doing well in other things rather than just athletics. It encompasses being a student-athlete."

The initial announcement naming the NCCU SAAC video the contest winner came on the @Div1SAAC official Twitter account the morning of Tuesday, May 1, which begins Mental Health Awareness Month.

"It is an extreme honor to be selected as the winner of the Division I National SAAC Video Contest," said George Midgett, NCCU SAAC Advisor. "Our SAAC understands the importance of breaking the stigmas surrounding mental health and wanted to extend that knowledge to our campus community. Miriam Duen, our 2018-19 President-Elect, spearheaded this drive and helped to spread the message to our student-athletes. Our ultimate goal is to encourage mental health awareness for all student-athletes by providing collaborative programming with students and campus partners, such as Dr. Rae Lundy with the Office of Clinical Services. We hope the vision of the video is received and helps to let student-athletes know that they are never alone."

Duen is a junior outfielder on the NCCU softball team. She first heard of the contest through the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Duen, who is the MEAC SAAC President, brought the idea to her fellow committee members at NCCU. The Eagles were on board with the prospect of helping with breaking the stigma of mental health issues and her ideas for the video itself.

"As someone who sometimes struggles with anxiety, I think that there is a need to break the mental health stigma within athletics, not only with student-athletes but for coaches as well," expressed Duen.

After some brainstorming sessions, Duen created a script called The Battle Within, which is based upon how she feels being a student-athlete while incorporating how others expressed they felt as well. Her goal was for the video to paint a picture and tell a story at the same time that portrayed the two sides of the battle where someone feels one way but acts a different way.

That inspiration came from a W. E. B. Du Bois quote stating, "One ever feels his twoness - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

The video that was required to be less than two minutes long features numerous NCCU student-athletes from various sports telling a partial story about the normal portrayals of what it is to be a student-athlete, while the other half of the story depicts the often less mentioned feelings and emotions of a student-athlete.

The visual power in the winning production gives viewers an added level of understanding in the mental health battle of student-athletes as the NCCU representatives had powerful messages of their choice written on their bodies throughout the piece. Some showcased common action words like 'pain is weakness,' 'mental toughness,' and 'fight,' while others depicted action words like 'you matter,' 'love yourself,' and 'look beyond what you see.' The concept was inspired by the Dear World campaign.

Duen, who is seen with 'Student-Athlete' written on her forearms during the video, concludes the piece by saying, "It's okay to not be okay. Let's continue the conversation."

The NCCU SAAC committee with the help of Midgett, Dr. Rae Lundy, the NCCU Health & Wellness Center and the NCCU Athletic Trainers are working together to keep the conversation going.

"Our SAAC has done a tremendous job in ensuring the voices of our student-athletes are heard. This is an example of how they are engaged in addressing critical issues that affect every campus," McCree said. "In alignment with our student-athletes' efforts to address mental health issues, our entire athletics staff will participate in Mental Health First Aid Certification beginning this summer. Student-athlete well-being is a priority for NCCU, and we are committed to providing the best resources for them to ensure academic, athletic and personal success."

NCCU will receive an award of $2,000 for the winning video to be used to support campus SAAC operations and activities.

The NCCU SAAC would like to thank NCCU football video coordinator Jordan Bland for his guidance with the video and NCCU TV Studio Manager Felecia Casey-Hicks for use of the TV Studio for two days to make the video possible.

NCCU Students/Individuals involved in the making of the production:
Takira Robinson (Cheerleading)
Tierra Bradley (Cheerleading)
LaRavia Outlaw (Cheerleading)
Erica Lewis (Cheerleading)
Deshanae Meaders (Cheerleading)
Christine Alcox (Volleyball)
D'anesha Miller (Volleyball)
Kennedy White (Volleyball)
Andrew King (Baseball)
Miriam Duen (Softball)
Marius McAllister (Men's Basketball)
Rodneysha Martin (Women's Basketball)
Erika Ianovale (Volleyball)
Hollan Strepay (Track and Field)
Whitney White (Volleyball)
Braxton Wright (Volleyball)
Jordan Perkins (Men's Basketball)
Jazire Notice (Track and Field)

TV Studio Crew
Christopher Gloetzel
Tyrie Williams
Taquaisha Patrick
Teion Dervin
Alexis Owens
Mushaya Carter
Markeith Gentry
Billy Thomas

Watch VIDEO: http://nccueaglepride.com/news/2018/5/2/athletics-department-nccu-saac-wins-ncaa-di-mental-health-video-contest.aspx?utm_medium=sidearm-email&utm_source=nccueaglepride.com&utm_campaign=NCCU+Athletics+Newsletter&utm_content=daf4884a-9b8f-4d96-9bf3-fe9e9a237229
Elynor Moss
Operations Manager, BlackRomance.com
Member Since January 2011
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