COURTESY OF SHARLISA DAVIS
The Latah Alliance on Mental Illness is hosting the second annual walk for mental illness May 1-8.
The first walk was held in person in 2019 and was a huge success, said event coordinator Jensen Southwick. It was started to help spread awareness and hope for individuals who have been affected by mental illness.
“In 2020, that wasn’t possible in the light of COVID,” Southwick said. “So we kind of picked it up this year with the modifications of a virtual event.”
Southwick said the event will occur over the course of a week to give participants the leisure to do it any day that works for them. It will also allow individuals to walk as many miles as they can.
Even though a virtual event is not the same as a physical 5K, Southwick said the walk is just as important as it would be under more normal circumstances.
“There’s a lot of freedom in that participants can really take this in a direction that feels good for them,” she said. “Participation is awareness, and it shows you care and are an active citizen.”
The main theme of the event is “Open heart, mind and sole,” Southwick said. Walking, jogging and even skateboarding the event is welcome.
“The message behind it is just to work on decreasing the stigma around mental illness,” she said, “seeing the individual as the person they are and the diagnosis they may be carrying, as well as advocating for mental health.”
The coordinators are still in the process of outlining trails to pull up in Google Maps so participants can engage in a physical 5K trail, Southwick said.
Sharlisa Davis, mental health advocate and event coordinator, said all community members are invited, including infants and seniors.
“It’s a family event,” Davis said. “It also will help with being on Zoom all of the time and constantly on a computer to get out and do a family activity.”
There will be a Zoom presentation on May 8 for individuals to share their experiences, Davis said. There may be guest speakers at the event to discuss the importance of mental health and the continuation of legislative funding for mental health.
“Even if it just feels like, maybe for a minute you’re just taking a random walk, you’re actually signifying something really important,” Southwick said. “It shows that you care about these causes.”
Davis said all donations can be offered through the LAMI website and go directly to the organization.