Mental health awareness walk fast approaching

Joanne Lee, Entertainment Editor

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The Blue Springs community is coming together a second year for the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk.

The walk will be on Saturday, May 5 at Blue Springs South High School. Registration begins at 10:30 and the walk will officially start at noon.

The Blue Springs Out of the Darkness Campus Walk was organized by parents, students, and a few other adults who all have all experienced lost someone close them due to suicide. The purpose of the walk is to provide a fun and energizing platform for raising awareness and stomping out the stigma associated with suicide.

To register for the walk, you can simply go to the website: www.outofthedarkness.org. You can register as an individual or as a team with your friends, teams, or club members. The top individuals or teams to raise the most donations receive recognition. Dianna Young, one the of parents who organized this event explains the reasoning behind the choices of registration.

“Having a team option for registration adds the “fun” to the fundraising aspect of the walk. Having a walk team allows individuals to combine their donations with others on their team. Top teams receive recognition each year. It’s fun to watch teams compete against one another to see who can raise the most funds or gather the most walkers. Having a team option encourages participation and provides a way for social or academic clubs to come together in support of a great cause. The other reason teams come together is to walk in honor of a loved one who has either died by suicide or struggled with suicidal ideation. Walking in someone’s honor often becomes a special gathering of surviving friends and family. It’s a very productive way to cope with the grief associated with the suicide loss,” Young said.

For the second year, the walk will be held at Blue Springs South. Participants are recommended to arrive at 10:30 a.m. to register for the event. After registration there will be resource tables to visit and meet with people from organizations specializing in mental health services. Before the walk begins there will be speakers to start off the walk.

Young explains the set-up for the walk this year.

“The actual walk will take place on the track. We’ll have a few speakers kick off the actual walk and then invite participants to take four laps around the track. If individuals are unable to complete the walk, that’s totally okay. We would love to see them at the event nonetheless. This is a great opportunity for students to invite family members,” Young said.

The purpose for the walk is to provide a fun and energizing platform for raising awareness and stomping out the stigma associated with suicide. The parents, students, and adults who organized this event stressed the importance of bringing resources into the community by asking mental health providers to meet people where they are. They hope to see students to continue to volunteer, walk, and help identify new ways to address their overall needs.

Senior Regan Jones is returning as a volunteer of the walk for a second year. She sees the walk as an opportunity to spread awareness in the community.

“The walk to me, is not only to help prevent suicide, but is a way for an entire community to acknowledge and raise awareness to mental health issues in our society. Being a part of the Out of The Darkness walks give people who struggle with or have loved ones who struggle with mental health, a day to feel like they matter and to feel seen. There is a reducing stigma around suicide and mental health in today’s society, and these walks truly help everyone who it has affected come ‘out of the darkness’,” Jones said.

The monetary goal for the walk this year is to raise at least $10,000 for the second year in a row. As for participants, at least 200 and as many of the youths as possible.

The proceeds raised from the walk will go directly to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for suicide prevention programs and research. AFSP funds several programs to reduce stigma and help the public better understand suicide. For more information visit afsp.org.

Organizers are hoping to either match last year’s success of having 200 participants who worked hard to raise over $10,000 or exceeding those results.

Young hopes to continue to plan and host the campus walks each year in Blue Springs.

“It is our goal to continue to plan and host the campus walks each year in Blue Springs. Last year we chose BSSHS because two of the students who have died by suicide would have graduated around the same time as the May walk. This year we are back at BSSHS for the same reason, two of the young people who have passed would be graduating this May. The planning team would like to invite Blue Springs High School to host next year’s walk on their campus. Ideally, we would alternate between the high schools so that all students have an ability to participate not just in the walk but also in the planning,” Young said.

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