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Feet on the ground in support of mental health

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

It’s estimated that one in five Canadians live with mental health issues.

Community Care Durham is calling on the community to help those who are feeling the effects locally.

The agency is hosting its 13th annual Walk for Mental Health Awareness on Saturday, June 9.

Jan Lovelock, community resources coordinator, says not only does the event serve to raise awareness but also funds to support valuable programs and resources for clients across Durham Region.

Monies from the walk go towards the Creating Opportunity for Personal Excellence (COPE) program.

“COPE is a community-based mental health program that offers support to people right in their communities,” Lovelock states. “There are more than 60 support groups across Durham Region that deal with topics such as depression, grief and loss, and caregiver support,” Lovelock says. “There is no charge for the program.”

Funding goes to branches in all eight Durham municipalities, with approximately $30,000 raised during last year’s event.

Lovelock says she expects approximately 400 participants this year.

She says when the walk was founded 13 years ago, Community Care Durham was the first organization in the region to host such an event for mental health awareness and continues to be the only one supporting services that are available close to home in every municipality.

“The motivation was to raise awareness and to help remove the stigmatization. We wanted to bring it to the forefront,” she says.

Community Care asks participants to collect funds, but are all welcome to walk.

With people coming from all over Durham to take part, Lovelock says Port Perry serves as a central location for the event.

The walk takes place from 9 a.m. to noon at the Port Perry Fairgrounds.

Participants can walk or run one, two or five km along a scenic waterfront trail and return for a complimentary barbeque lunch.

There are prizes for top pledge collectors, including an overnight stay at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, and also many draw prizes.

Registrants who collect at least $20 will receive a free walk t-shirt.

The event will feature entertainment, music and children’s activities.

Participants can pre-register or become a sponsor by calling 905-430-8014 or 905-985-7784, visit http://communitycaredurham.on.ca/events/walk-for-mental-health/, or drop into a local CCD office. The Oshawa office is  at 101 King Street East.