Written by Christina Jani
After a pause, the Hays chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is sponsoring a NAMI Walk on Saturday.
The rally will begin at 10 a.m. in Municipal Park in the East Refuge near the tennis courts. Pedestrians are welcome to walk up to three miles along the embankment next to the Fort Hays State University campus.
The rally will be in conjunction with a similar event in Topeka, as well as other tours to be held across the country to celebrate the Unified Day of Hope. This is the first year that NAMI is walking again in person after two years of virtual walking due to COVID.
The rallies aim to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as raise funds to support NAMI programs.
You can donate to the Hays team at www.namiwalks.org/team/NamiHaysTeam. If you would like to donate to affiliate startups in Northwest Kansas, you can donate to Team NAMI Northwest Kansas Hope Dealers.
You can donate to affiliates across the country by going to the NAMI Walks webpage and clicking United Hope Day: May 21.
Anastasia Condon, Director of Walking for Nami KansasPeople often create teams to memorialize loved ones who died by suicide, he said. Family members of people with mental illness are also encouraged to walk.
The fundraising goal for NAMI Kansas is $100,000, of which more than $41,000 has already been donated.
Fifty percent of all funds raised at Hays will remain in the community to support programs, including chapters, support groups, and advocacy programs. All resources and classes provided by NAMI are free. Information shared in classes and support groups is confidential.
NAMI Hays offers a Connections Support Group for People with Mental Illness at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month at the Center for Life Experience, 103 E. 27th St., Hays. The NAMI Family Support Group is offered at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month also at the Life Experience Center.
Both support groups are offered in person at Hays, as well as online.
NAMI offers peer-to-peer and family-to-family education programs throughout the year.
For more information on how to participate in any local NAMI class or group, please send an email [email protected] Or call the Life Experience Center at 785-259-6859.
“What I don’t think people realize is all the resources available through NAMI,” said Corinna Hudsonpillar, the new chair of the NAMI Hays steering committee. “I didn’t realize until I first became associated with NAMI. There are so many resources that are being offered for free, and that’s beautiful.”
She said she hopes events like the walk will help people become more aware and be more comfortable talking about mental illness.
“The more we talk about mental health, the better for everyone,” she said.
Although more discussions have taken place about mental illness, Hudsonpillar said the stigma remains.
“People don’t talk about, ‘I’m going to see my therapist today,'” she said, ‘but they aren’t afraid to say, ‘I’m going to the doctor today,’ or ‘I’m going to the chiropractor today,’ or ‘I’m going to the dentist.’ Instead, when they go To the therapist, they say they have an appointment.
“We want people to talk about it more and know that it’s normal.”
NAMI Walk is open to anyone in the community who would like to join. Children and pets are welcome on leashes. You do not have to donate to participate.
Hudsonpillar said those who cannot organize the event are encouraged to walk on their own as far as they wish.
She said exercise is an important part of mental health, as well as physical health.
Hudsonpillar said she hopes to grow the career at Hayes in the future.
Christina Jani is a member of NAMI.