(Submitted photo)

A group of 30 eager students hang on every word shared by their instructor and fellow classmates thanks to inventive and interactive storytelling by Leave Your Mark Lacrosse owner Jamie Knight.

The excitement by the students is in combination to the powerful message of anti-bullying being shared with the group and also knowing that they will have a chance to learn how to play lacrosse and hit targets setup in the gym.

“I like to get the students involved in the story telling, especially at the French schools where I have them lead the storytelling from a selection of slides,” said Knight.

“I meet with each class of students in groups no larger than 30 so we can talk about why everyone is important and how people can be hurt by cruel words and messages.”

Over the past year, Leave Your Mark Lacrosse has been working with schools across the region to share the message that there is no room for bullying because all creatures, no matter how big or small, are significant and have a contribution to make to the overall cycle of life.

This message is based on the original story of lacrosse passed down by the Iroquois.

“My goal at the end of every session is to leave the kids feeling empowered and that they can be role models for others,” said Knight.

“They then do a crash course on how to play lacrosse and discuss the importance of sport, teamwork, and keeping healthy mentally and physically.”

As part of the lesson, students are provided with key messages letting them know that every expert was once a beginner and that everyone needs to have a safe space to learn and try new things.

Once the students have the basics down of the game, including the fundamentals of stickhandling, they are then provided with an opportunity to test out their skills by shooting at nets and hitting targets.

“There is nothing better than watching the joy and disbelief on a student’s face when they manage to fire a ball and hit the target square on,” said Knight.

“It might sound a bit wild, but there is so much energy in every group that it’s impossible not to feel inspired.”

In addition to the anti-bullying program, Leave Your Mark Lacrosse offers a selection of winter and summer lacrosse camps and advanced skill sessions across Southwestern Ontario.

It is all part of their vision to promote, develop and teach the game of lacrosse, to every person who is interested, regardless of sex, age or creed.

According to Knight, a recent winter camp sold out in just one week and they are looking at opportunities to add additional sessions.

“I’ve been working with Jamie Knight for over two years now and it has been wonderful to see his business expand to new areas across Chatham-Kent, into Windsor/Essex and Sarnia/Lambton, and over to communities near London such as Strathroy,” said Rosemarie Montgomery, Business Consultant with the Chatham-Kent Small Business Centre.

“Jamie and I have been working on updating his business plan to account for the success he had this past year with his summer camps. He was able to identify that some of his most active camps are for hockey players who use lacrosse as a high-activity sport that keeps them sharp, but also won’t leave them injured.”

2019 is shaping up to be a busy year for Leave Your Mark Lacrosse.

In addition to adding more schools to the anti-bullying program and also requests for just lacrosse lessons, Leave Your Mark Lacrosse has also been receiving requests from community groups and agencies to bring the message into the community.

“There is a lot of interest from educators for us to come back because they tell us that students will be talking about what they learned days and even weeks after we’ve gone,” added Knight.

For more information about the programs, services, and camps available at Leave Your Mark Lacrosse, visit their website at www.leaveyourmarklacrosse.ca.