Inaugural Mental Health Awareness Walk slated for April 13

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    By Lisa Scott
    Special to The PREVIEW
    “P.S. It’s okay (to talk about it)” is the slogan for the inaugural Mental Health Awareness Walk which will take place on April 13 starting in Town Park. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. and the first 50 participants will receive a “P.S. It’s Okay” T-shirt.
    The walk will commence at 10 a.m. from Town Park, walk along the sidewalks of San Juan Street, cross U.S. 160 at the courthouse, then come back on the other side of San Juan Street along the shops, crossing U.S. 160 again at the corner near Goodman’s Department Store and continue walking along Hot Springs Boulevard and to the high school. At the high school, there will be information and resource booths and a speaker on the topic is being arranged.
    Sarah Ross, high school senior, witnessed a similar event in Telluride last fall.
    “It was a lighthearted walk with dogs, signs and lots of positivity around the subject. Many bystanders jumped in to be a part of it,” Ross described.
    She followed the crowd back to the park, where they started and spent time looking around the resource booths and silent auction. Immediately, Ross determined this was a great and do-able community service project to recreate in Pagosa Springs.
    Ross is in her second year of a class at Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS) called Youth Rise taught by Cheryl Bowdridge. This class is an activism elective focusing on building healthy, responsible students with training to stand up against social justice issues in their school and community.
    Partnering with her friend Diana Scott, the two discussed the idea with Bowdridge, who was very enthusiastic and introduced the young ladies to the Archuleta County Suicide Awareness Collaborative Group.
    This group of concerned citizens is working with a state-funded initiative to raise awareness about suicide in our community. After the presentation, this group was supportive of the event agreed to help sponsor. With this support, Ross and Scott began planning the event. Bowdridge and Stewart Bellina, PSHS Pirate Achievement Center therapist and advisory coordinator, have been advisors providing necessary support and encouragement.
    The mission of the event is to compassionately bring awareness towards mental health to improve communication, openness and awareness to support individual and community needs.
    For more information, contact Ross at 903-1925, or Bowdridge at 946-5276 or cheryl@riseaboveviolence.org.