Moving forward with mental health awareness

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(mental health awareness)

NAMIWalks Inland Empire raises funds at Diamond Valley Lake Marina

More than 1,800 enthusiastic walkers were given a beautiful day and afforded a fantastic view of the Diamond Valley Lake Marina, as they stretched and readied themselves to take part in the 14th annual NAMIWalks Inland Empire walk.

As one walker said, “We’re walking to increase the awareness of and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.”

Walkers were treated to food stalls, fruit stalls, bottled water and dozens of educational and information booths as well.

“We’re here to raise awareness of mental health and the stigma associated with it,” said NAMIWalks and NAMI-San Jacinto Executive Director, Brenda Scott, explaining, “if a person has a physical ailment, such as a heart condition or a broken arm, we don’t whisper or make off-color jokes: we’re there with care and compassion. We have to learn to afford those dealing with mental health challenges the same type of empathy and compassion.”

Ms. Maria Jones and her family came to the walk all dressed in pink T-shirts as a sign of solidarity. They were thankful to have an organization such as NAMI: some enthusiastically drove more than two hours to reach the site.. “I came here because of my family and all our families: we all deal with this issue and we have to realize that it affects every family,” said Mrs Jones, adding, “we raised $400, and we were proud to have done so. Some of our family here drove all the way from Long Beach.”

The weather also cooperated to give walkers a beautiful warm and lightly breezy day as boaters carved paths on the surface of the serene, picturesque Diamond Valley Lake.

Marlene Hagen, Director for Children and Family Services in San Bernardino County was very excited to be a part of the walk. “I and my staff are here today because we want to support all of our foster families and all of our caregivers, relatives and kinship caregivers that are caring for our children, some, of whom suffer from mental illness, due to trauma they have experienced in their young lives. We want to make sure that we’re here to support them and to learn more about what they need in terms of support from us,” said Hagen. Even though this is the first year of CFS-San Bernardino involvement, they can tell that this was a very well-planned event. “I think the organization (NAMI) is great. They’ve been so welcoming. If it weren’t for Brenda and her board members, I don’t know that we would have understood what it meant to support NAMI, so it’s been wonderful.”

The NAMIWalk has drawn more walkers, supporters and booths every year, so supporters are already excitedly looking forward to what NAMI has planned for next year.  “It’s still a bit early, but I believe we achieved our financial goal.”  Those who know Brenda Scott and NAMI-San Jacinto know that this organization always succeeds in all its plans.

Those interested in supporting NAMI may do so at namimtsanjacinto.org

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