Even though the rain would not let up, but Spring into Action was anything but a wash-out.
The 14th annual 5k run based at InsideOut Health and Fitness Studio on Laird Drive took place as scheduled on May 25.
Spring into Action! is a fundraiser founded by InsideOut owner Barry Samuel, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to raise raise awareness and remove the stigma surrounding youth mental illness.
Besides the rain-defying turnout from community members, Spring into Action also received support from local sponsors, including Healthy Planet, HBC, TD Bank, Kathleen Wynne’s Leaside office, Valu-mart and the Running Room.
The morning kicked off with a sunrise yoga session led by yoga instructor Corinne “Sunshine” Mazin, who said, “I just feel that everyone can relate to a time when they might have felt anxious or depressed and this event is a good way to raise awareness about youth mental health so that we can better understand mental health issues.”
Yoga was followed by a Bollywood Zumba warm-up, courtesy of fitness instructor Shellina Sevany.”Mental health issues are on the rise dramatically, and everybody’s affected,” Sevany said. “People have a hard time accepting it because they can’t see it.”.
After the run, everyone returned to InsideOut. Although they were wet from the rain, dampened spirits did not prevent them from enjoying a barbecue, entertainment, raffle prizes and face-painting, as well as some inspiring speeches, including from Toronto’s mayor.
Mayor John Tory expressed his admiration to everyone for coming out in the rain to participate in such a worthy cause. “Mental health is every bit as important as physical health,” he said, adding that it’s “sad” the way we treat mental health differently from other illnesses.
We are better able to get over the stigma surrounding mental illness “thanks to events like this,” Tory said.
Youths were also feeling the positive effects of Spring into Action and were eager to share their stories.
“Mental health is a big part of everyone’s lives,” said Eric Gagnon. “I’ve dealt with mental health situations before and it can be really difficult to be alone.”
Ashley Siegel spoke about having lived with mental illness since she was a little girl, although she said proudly, “I does not define me.”
Siegel said she realized the danger of keeping silent and was emphatic that it is “so important to talk about it.” No one is immune as “mental illness doesn’t discriminate,” she said.
Runner Karen Gagnon said she normally would not go out in such bad weather. However, as she has five children, “one of which has used CAMH’s services, she is a big supporter of this cause.
The day concluded with a presentation of a $15,000 cheque to CAMH.