When I was approached to become an ambassador for the upcoming RBC Race for the Kids taking place in Toronto on September 17th, I didn’t hesitate a minute to say yes. Their race has as a goal to raise awareness and funds for mental health and more specifically the Family Navigation Project at the Sunnybrook Hospital. The race has raised $5.1 million in only 3 years for the Family Navigation Project and has become the 3rd largest walk/run in the GTA. With close to 20 000 participants and sold-out editions in 2014, 2015 and also now 2016, this has become a very important event in the city.
Mental health is a cause that hits close to home. When I was 21, I lost my best friend and boyfriend at the time to suicide. This was an incredibly hard time in my life. I know that projects like the Family Navigation Project could have potentially helped him during his time of distress. There is unfortunately still such a stigma associated with mental health and over the past couple of years, I have tried my hardest to talk as much as possible about my direct experience with it, offer any help I can and hopefully point people to direct lines of help.
The Family Navigation Project has already helped more than 1000 families in the past 2 years. Did you know that as many as 2 million young Canadians struggle with mental health or addiction and yet only 1 in 5 receives the specialized treatment he or she needs? The reason being is that Canada’s mental-health system is difficult and confusion for families to navigate. So the goal of this project is to provide family with experts and navigators that can help families free of charge get the specific help they need. The project is entirely funded by private donations so partaking in this race directly impacts the services that can be provided to the community.
This weekend, people from all over will be coming to downtown Toronto in support of this cause. You have the chance to run either 5k, 7k or 15k. I picked the 7k distance. I will be running in some great new gear by New Balance, the official race sponsor.
A lot of groups have signed up for the race because the race has no registration fee (which is awesome!). This is because everyone is encouraged to fundraise at least $100 for the event. So even if the race is now sold out you can still donate by going to the link provided below. With everyone’s help fundraising, the Family Navigation Project hopes to expand their services and reach beyond the GTA, to across the country.
Photos by: @Offner