Shak’s World aims to make a slam dunk when it comes to youth mental health

The organization hopes the City of Barrie can provide $42,000 to lease space downtown

Shak Edwards is serious when she comes to play.

The Barrie woman is the founder and president of Shak’s World, a not-for-profit that is community-based to empower young people, with a focus on youth mental health programming. She encourages youth to stay humble and be kind through community engagement initiatives, sporting events and mentoring.

Edwards has been doing this work since 2017. She came to the forefront Monday night at City Council seeking $42,000 to lease space downtown to run the programming out of.

A motion brought forward by Mayor Jeff Lehman to give Shak’s World the cash was reworded after councillors said they had not been given enough time to review the proposal from Edwards or ask questions. Instead, council approved the revision which asks staff to meet with Shak’s World and explore opportunities to support her programs, with the possibility of leasing the former City of Barrie Youth Centre on Maple Avenue.

Shak World’s Vice President McKeyra Peter said they would like a six month to one-year lease.

The organization places a heavy emphasis on the well-being of youth through basketball.

L-R Shak Edwards and McKeyra Peter (Picture provided)

“That’s essentially how Shak’s World started out was through basketball. There is a unique opportunity to bridge the gap of youth and mental health utilizing the sport that many of them love and create connections,” said Peter. “We are able to invite mentors and bring in speakers to provide structure through the sport.”

Shak’s World has made huge strides and has a partnership with the Simcoe County District School Board. Edwards envisions a home base in Barrie and to continue to travel to other parts of the County to offer programming.

When Edwards came to council on Monday, she was under the impression council had a little more information and background on what Shak’s World was.

Peter said they will give council a full business plan, making sure it is clear and concise as possible to address any questions that any of the councillors or anyone else may have. He said this program needs to happen.

While the ask for money from City Council was something new for Edwards, she has been coaching within the community for a long time.

“When Shak’s World was brought to the forefront it was in hopes of bringing light to youth mental health awareness from an athlete that grew up in the community, that is marginalized, and that wants to bring unity to the community. I would say it has been a lifelong mission of mine.”

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