Toronto’s four major sports teams have now partnered to enhance the 19-year old Huddle Up anti-bullying campaign.
After helping over 600,000 children since the program was created it now has a chance to impact people across the province.
Declan Cross remembered mentoring a young boy who changed his life after their encounter.
“I talked to one guy who wanted to play quarterback for his team. And he said, ‘I’m gonna play quarterback next year because I’m gonna stay out of trouble now’, ” said Cross, an Argonauts fullback.
“I actually followed up the year after to see where he was at and he was staying out of trouble and he was playing quarterback and everything so I just, I see these results and it’s really motivating.”
Now the Argo has the chance to see his impact make a larger level.
Terence Davis, a guard for the Raptors, Dwayne De Rosario, a Toronto FC legend, and Darcy Tucker, a long time Maple Leaf, all helped launch Huddle Up in front of a gymnasium full of students.
“I’m just trying to be in the forefront and do my part to give them back,” said De Rosario, asked about the chance to be a mentor for others. “You know, I think that’s something I take very dear to my heart.
“It’s something that I feel that we all should take a stand for and step up and make sure that these kids have the best environment.”
De Rosario spoke to the different ways he dealt with bullying throughout his childhood. Like so many he was able to rely on his teammates and coaches to help guide him through the tough times.
Each of the athletes had experiences where they were either bullied or have helped others in need. This to them was a main reason to help build up the program to the magnitude.
Jason Colero co-founded the campaign in 2001 with the Toronto Argonauts and it has been a presence in schools since.
With the addition of the new teams and an online feature to the Huddle Up program, there is a chance to reach children across the province and make a larger impact than before.