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Rainy River to host first LGBTQ Pride event

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The Rainy River branch of the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is pleased to announce that on Saturday May, 25, Rainy River will be having their first LGBTQ Pride event and we invite all in the community to take part with us.

This walk will run in conjunction with other free community events geared towards improving health and awareness for locals including the safeTALK presentation from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) this Friday (May 24) and the Family Health Fair & Bike Rodeo this Saturday (May 25), the latter of which will be in partnership with the NWHU, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and Best Start Hub.

Mental health issues are something that everyone can be affected by and the LGBTQ community are no exception.

Rainbow Health Ontario has available on their website a fact sheet which reports studies done on mental health for LGBTQ people; statistics from the fact sheet show that LGBTQ people are “almost twice as likely to experience childhood maltreatment, interpersonal violence . . . as their heterosexual peers,” and they're 2.5 times more likely than heterosexuals to have attempted suicide.

The rates for suicidal thoughts and attempts for trans-people are very high with 77 percent having seriously considered suicide while 45 percent have attempted it.

Hailey Coleman, an NWHU health educator, said many mental health issues are avoidable and adds “by making Rainy River an even safer space for youth regardless of gender or sexuality we could help aid in the prevention of mental health issues in our community.”

The walk is meant to reduce the stigma in Rainy River and allow people of all ages to be themselves.

“It's meant to reduce bullying at our schools by showing children and teenagers it's okay to be different regardless of if they are LGBTQ or not,” said Coleman.

“It's meant to show our families that we support them and to show that Rainy River is an accepting town.”

The theme for the Pride Walk is “Just Be You.” All individuals, families, and organizations are welcome to meet May 25 at the municipal office at 10 a.m.

The walk will end at the Rainy River Recreation Centre.

Participants are asked to walk (or bike or rollerblade or use a wheelchair or walker) and just be yourself!

All welcome to attend and join the family and dog friendly walk. Contact Chelsea Greig or Hailey Coleman at 852-3268 for more information.

As mentioned above, other Family Health Weekend events taking place in Rainy River include CMHA's safeTALK (Suicide Alertness For Everyone)

this Friday from 6-9 p.m. at the Rainy River Recreation Centre.

This program teaches members of the community to recognize persons with thoughts of suicide and to connect them to suicide intervention resources. Each participant will receive a certificate upon completion and high school students receive volunteer hours for attending.

Free to participate but must pre-register by contacting Hailey Coleman at 852-3268. For more information contact Charlene Strain at 274-2347 ext.207.

Then this Saturday will be the Family Health Fair & Bike Rodeo from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Rainy River Recreation Centre

The OPP and Best Start Hub will be doing bicycle races and helmet fitting for children.

Family Health Fair booths attending will include information and/or demonstrations on infant safety, concussions, LGBTQ, mental health, and kid's outdoor safety.

The canteen will also be open!

For more information contact Hailey Coleman at 852-3268 or the Best Start Hub at 271-4266.

If your organization is interested in putting up a rainbow flag in support of this event, or you're interested in partnering with the NWHU for Pride or the Family Health Weekend, please contact us at 852-3268 or by e-mailing Coleman at hcoleman@nwhu.on.ca or Greig at cgreig@nwhu.on.ca

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