Mental Health Awareness Walk set for May 21

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By John Finefrock | Rise Above Violence

The 2022 Mental Health Awareness Walk will be on Saturday, May 21. We hope to see you there.

 “We created the walk to be short and sweet and to emphasize that it’s OK to talk about mental health issues,” said Sarah Ross, the 2019 Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS) graduate who created this community event after seeing a similar walk in Telluride. The students in the Youth Rise Club at PSHS will be hosting the free event this year. 

Day-of registration will start at 9:30 a.m. at Town Park on May 21. The walk will start at 10 a.m. The preregistration link is tinyurl.com/mentalhealthwalk2022 and the first 75 people to register will get a free event T-shirt. The walk will take about 30 minutes and will be around downtown and will circle back to Town Park, where informational booths with local mental health resources will be set up.

Around 11 a.m., our guest speaker, Gus Palma, will give a speech. Palma is a lifelong Pagosa Springs resident, an educator and actor who spent some time in New York and Hollywood after getting his theater degree. He is now working in our local Pagosa schools, striving to make a difference in the community.

Palma’s speech will detail his upbringing in Pagosa Springs, how he has overcome his own mental health issues, and how part of coming into your own is rooting yourself in empathy and treating others with respect. 

Students from Youth Rise and staff from Rise Above Violence will also speak.

The event logo, as seen on the posters and T-shirts, is a representation of mental health and was designed by Ethan Brown, artist and former PSHS student. The roots of the tree take up a large portion of the logo, showing how buried and unspoken mental health can be and that it is rooted in our society: out of sight, out of mind. The tree trunk represents the issue being brought to the surface, illustrating the event’s tagline “P.S. It’s Okay (to talk about it).”As more light is shed onto the subject, positive growth occurs, leaves sprout and the tree continues to grow.

This event is also a great way to get information and show support for the various nonprofit organizations that support mental health and other human service in our community. If you have any event questions, please contact John Finefrock, youth advocate, at (970) 403-5461 or john@riseaboveviolence.org.

Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit organization which promotes the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence. Rise provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving more than 350 victims each year. 

Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call (970) 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today. If you want to be part of the team to help those in our community, volunteers for advocacy are always needed and welcomed.