We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

We amplify marginalized voices and create meaningful work for those experiencing poverty

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Frisbee from the Heart

A free weekly drop-in group in Oppenheimer Park promotes healing, joy and togetherness. Let’s throw!

Iven Simonetti

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My name is Iven. I am not from the ’hood but for the ’hood. Since 2020, I’ve been running a weekly Frisbee Drop-in Group at Oppenheimer Park. Every Thursday at 2 p.m., people of all skill levels are welcome to join us. We are not an Ultimate Frisbee Group; instead, we focus on fostering a sense of community through Frisbee.

Joining the group is absolutely free. But I do offer to sell people their own Frisbee. The idea to print my own Frisbees came to me after stumbling upon one at Kits Beach. At that time, I was feeling burned out and desperately needed something to bring me happiness and healing. Learning to play Frisbee became that source of joy, and my late friend Vance G., who passed away on Nov. 25, 2020, inspired me to offer Frisbee drop-in groups. We used to play Frisbee together every summer after making music at Keefer Place in the Downtown Eastside. (You can listen to our music on YouTube under the name “Hang by iveno & Recorder by Vance”).

Playing Frisbee had a profound impact on Vance. It created an emotional connection for him and he found solace in the game, despite struggling with addictions and the challenges life threw at him in his mid- 50s. He expressed that he wasn’t done yet and still had something to live for after we played the first time together.

During our time together, Vance shared stories from his early 20s, when he was homeless, living on the beach, drinking, smoking weed and playing Frisbee with his friends every day. Learning about this aspect of his life inspired me — after some time of grieving for Vance — to bring Frisbee to the Oppenheimer Park community.

To my surprise, there is a whole community of people who truly understand how to “throw the Frisbee from the heart. One such friend I made is Kerry, who started playing Frisbee at the young age of 10 and even joined a Frisbee Freestyle Team. Kerry’s mastery of tricks I’ve never seen before reflects his genuine passion for the pastime. We both share the belief that Frisbee is much more than a mere sport. It serves as a form of self-care, a meditative practice for the community and even boosts our immune systems every time we catch or throw the disc to someone else. It’s inclusive, a way of sending a message that we care about one another. Kerry and his friends have made this group truly special for me.

Frisbee to us has become a powerful symbol of healing, joy and togetherness. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this passion with others and continue honouring the memory of my dear friend Vance. Together, we are spreading positivity and mental well-being, one throw at a time.

My goal is to raise funds to keep this group going and to give out Frisbees to each player at Oppenheimer Park through public donations on gofundme.com. You can search: “Frisbees for Mental Health.”

Filed under: Community

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Iven Simonetti


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