Mental Health Advocate Award Winner: Ultimate Citizens

2024 Winner
Ultimate Citizens film poster

More Than a Game: Jamshid's Ultimate Journey in 'Ultimate Citizens'

Imagine a documentary brimming with vibrant colors, where this very brightness captures the essence of the human spirit through stunning visuals. I'll let you in on a secret and tell you that you don't have to imagine, that's what Ultimate Citizens is, a movie that goes beyond sports and shows the transformative power of one person's commitment to a community.

The cornerstone of the Ultimate Citizens, directed by Francine Strickwerda, is Jamshid Khajavi, a wonderful school counselor and the best Frisbee coach. But here's the catch: He's not your typical coach. Jamshid perceives himself as an equal of the students, because he understands them directly due to his immigrant background. Most of its students have an unfavorable background of underprivileged life, poverty, war and the worst aspect of life - uncertainty. But on the Frisbee field, they find a place where they belong, where they dream and have a chance to thrive.

“The first thing Jamshid said when he came in.. (was) “I like to teach through play. I’d rather be out on the field. I’m gonna be out there at recess. That’s where I teach kids.”

– Debbie Nelsen, principal of the school Hazel Wolf K-8, about Jamshid Khajavi

Do you still think he might be just another coach? Well, listen to this: he ensures these children have proper meals, even tying their shoelaces with a gentle touch that speaks volumes about his character. What's more, we witness his boundless energy as he tackles mountain trails, running marathons and kayaking – Jamshid sets a powerful example of physical and mental resilience for children.

His ultimate goal? To lead his team to Spring Reign, the world's largest youth ultimate tournament. This seemingly impossible dream becomes a beacon of hope, a chance to start the ultimate underdog story, to break free from circumstance and become champions. But the beauty of it all is that it's not just about winning the game - it's about breaking down barriers with unity, breaking down stereotypes, and proving that every individual, regardless of background, has the potential for greatness.

“My story is all the family’s, (it is) all what affected my life. My families are part of me. I’m part of them. We are community”.

- Jamshid about his students

But Ultimate Citizens isn't just a mix of feel-good moments. It tackles the real challenges that arise in any community, including a kids' sports team. Jamshid has excellent mediation skills to resolve conflict, which demonstrates his ability to facilitate communication and understanding. This, along the film's stunning camerawork that captures raw emotions and genuine connections, makes the story resonate deeply.

The film's climax, the Spring Reign tournament, is a visual masterpiece. You feel the energy and tension as if you are with them, throwing a Frisbee and chasing the dreams.

Ultimate Citizens is more than just a sports movie. It is a celebration of humanity, resilience and the transformative power of community. It is a reminder that even in difficult times, with the right guidance and faith, anything is possible. So take a deep breath and join Jamshid and his team on their incredible journey. You might just discover the champion within yourself.