Playing soccer in a bubble is not exactly an everyday experience, but that is exactly what happened at North Ogden Junior High on September 26th, at “Try It Knight.” This fun-filled event was part of Hope Week, a week focused on suicide awareness and prevention. Nearly 1,000 students and family members attended the event. Volunteers from the Parent Teacher and Student Association (PTSA), North Ogden Jr. High, Orion Jr. High, and the Utah National Guard all worked together to make this a great experience.
Some highlights from the event include a 30 ft. rock climbing wall, where a member of the Utah National Guard helped participants harness and climb up one of three climbing courses. Another popular activity was bubble soccer, where students got into a giant bubble suit and played soccer. One player, Aidan Casey, explained, “It’s not very fun to get trapped between two people and get knocked back and forth like they are playing ping pong with you as the ball, but then you get a strong sensation when you knock them over and do the same to them.” Dartside amusement center also contributed to the fun and set up a dodgeball court inside of a bounce house. This had people lined up down the hall!
Another popular attraction was Mr. Simmons and his Medieval Martial Arts tournament. Dressed in a medieval costume that looked like heavy metal armour, Mr. Simmons battled anyone who would get in the ring with him. “This is the booth where you challenge the champion or the giant,” he said. To the older kids I am champion. To the younger kids I am the giant.” Other activities included the friendship rock painting, balloon art, a drum circle, lacrosse, kickball, and volleyball. Local food trucks like Waffle Love, Leila’s Luau, and Wingin’ It came to serve free dinner!
The consensus is people loved the event! Parent Sherrie Handlock explained, “What we like is having a family meal together, and fun activities to share.” Student, Keean Marsh added, “The bubble soccer was super fun.” “I think that It is a good opportunity to be with your friends and to try new things,” said 7th Grader Nikya Johansen.
This fun event wouldn’t have been possible without amazing volunteers and sponsors: Wingin’ It, Parents Empowered, Waffle Love, Walmart, Fiiz Drinks, Weber Human Services Prevention, N.U. Hope, NOJH PTSA, and Weber Human Service.
The main purpose of “Try It Knight” was to bring awareness to suicide prevention. In Weber School District special groups of kids are trained in peer to peer suicide prevention. These groups are called the Hope Squad. Hope Squad members are trained to recognize, ask about, and refer struggling students for help.
Ms. Dietz, one of the counselors at North Ogden Jr. High School explained that the purpose of “Try it Knight” was to get students with depression or suicidal thoughts to try something new, and maybe give them a new hobby or something to live for. She explained that teen suicide is an issue in the Weber School District that needs to be addressed. “We have had eight suicides in the last six years. So yes, it is definitely an issue in our area.” She added that there are several contributing factors including overly high expectations and stress. “Some students are under a lot of stress, feel like they can’t deal with it, and tragically end up taking their own lives.” Hope Squads, Hope Week and “Try it Knight” are all part of a coordinated effort to change this trend. “We want to let students know they’re not alone; there are many people who can help, and many things they can do if they are struggling that are positive, and can help turn things around for them.”