September is a big month for the organizers of Journey to Hope, as they host various events throughout the month spreading awareness about suicide and prevention. 

Not only is it educational, but each year a walk is held in Crescent Park where everyone is invited to participate and hear stories from their neighbours.

At the event over the weekend Donna Bowyer, with the Canadian Mental Health Association, addressed the crowd. "We need to really recognize how much your participation means, the work that you do, by coming here as well, is helping throughout the year."

"Canadian Mental Health Association partners with Journey to Hope and over this last year we have helped train over 115 people to be able to be out in the community and help identify."

Paige Mackie was also a guest speaker at the Journey to Hope Walk on the weekend and told her personal and inspirational story of her own struggles and successes with mental illness. 

 "I slowly began to realize my worth and love myself for the first time in my life. I began to fight for me, because I realized that my illness made me better (and) it made me stronger," said Mackie. "I've learned to love myself for every part of me including my illness because it has made me passionate, humble and kind. It's not something as simple as appreciating the small things. It's an illness."

 "When I could see that and accept that, I felt not just hope, but the belief that I was going to live a good and happy life."

Della Ferguson, a grief support worker with W.J. Jones and Son Funeral Home, took time during the presentation to read off a list of names of those who were affected by suicide and left a moment of silence between each name to honour each and every person who had lost their battle with mental illness.

Ferguson also wrapped up the event with an emotional announcement of the grand total raised by organizers, participants and residents. The final total collected was $21,180.13, with $10,000 of that raised since last year's walk, and all funds will be going to continued education of suicide prevention and awareness. 

 

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