‘Stigma’ walk/run hailed as success
The local Canadian Mental Health Association’s 1K and 5K walk/run, entitled “Steps Against Stigma,” was deemed a success despite the cold, windy, and rainy conditions Saturday.
“Everyone was really motivated and good-spirited, and I think overall it was a really good event,” said CMHA rehab program assistant Kristi Albright, noting the weather didn’t seem to deter anyone.
CMHA family liaison worker Christina Hahkala said close to 100 people attended the event.
More than 70 had pre-registered, with some signing up Saturday morning.
“I was ecstatic,” she enthused. “Even with the weather, it was great.”
The event was held at the Sorting Gap Marina, and each participant received a bright green T-shirt naming the cause.
This year, CMHA Fort Frances is focusing on the effects of stigma on those who have mental illness and bringing awareness to it.
Both Albright and Hahkala said the event, held in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 6-12), did just that.
“I think it helped us reach people that may not have been aware of mental health and the impact that it can have on people and their families,” Hahkala said.
“So I think anytime you can bring awareness out to the public, that it’s a positive thing.”
“The biggest thing is we just want to get the word out there—being different isn’t something to be afraid of,” echoed Albright.
“We need to celebrate the diversity in our community.”
Diversity certainly was
represented among the participants Saturday.
“We were happy to see a really diverse group,” Albright said. “There were kids, older people, people of different races, so that’s important, too.”
She added the event even drew residents from International Falls.
Neither of the 1K or 5K events were timed, so people just got out and had fun.
Door prizes (adult and child) also were drawn after the two events.
“It is a great way to support people who have a mental health problem and their family members,” said Hahkala.
“As well, it is good for all of our mental health to be moving our body, and getting fresh air and socializing,” she added.
“I think it went really well for our first shot at it,” noted Albright, who said citing the local CMHA hopes to make the 1K and 5K walk/run an annual event.
“We just to bring out more awareness against stigma,” she stressed.
“Hopefully, more and more people will show up so we can get the message out.”
Albright also said it was a good kick-off for Mental Illness Awareness Week, with information being distributed at local schools and throughout the community.
“So hopefully it will become a week that’s remembered,” she reasoned.
As for next year, Albright said they will try to do some more advertising and get the information about the event out there earlier so people have more time to get ready for it.
“We just want it to get bigger and bigger,” she remarked.