One man and his husky are in the midst of a trek dubbed 7 Million Steps for Children’s Mental Health that aims to bring awareness and funds to the issue.
Bret Mavrik and husky Nymeria are an unlikely pair as they walk together across Canada for the Follow Our Walk campaign with only each other for company and a special cart that stores all their belongings. The trip, which started in Toronto, Ont. on Sept. 28, 2015 has brought the two through all sorts of challenges; environmental, physical, porcupines in Nymeria’s face and at times there have been run-ins with certain nefarious individuals.
Mavrik passed through Ponoka Tuesday, May 10 to little fanfare. He is not one for the spot light and yet his mission is one that he feels is of utmost importance. Indeed, Mavrik took all his savings and put it all into making this trip happen.
Mavrik’s goal is simple: to change legislation and education regarding help for children with mental illness.
He’s no stranger to the issue; Mavrik’s son struggled in school and was expected to coast through elementary and high school education with little attention due to his mental challenges. “My son almost got shunned out of school,” he said in an interview.
However, his dedicated work with his son allowed him to graduate with high marks and continued to succeed in post-secondary education. Mavrik says rather than giving children medication to deal with their issues, schools and legislators should find a way to help them manage and cope with their mental health challenges.
He likened the issue to dealing with bullies. In some cases, Mavrik said he has found that a school will provide therapy to the person who was bullied rather than the other way around. Solving the problem of bullying starts with giving the bully the necessary therapy.
With the old way of teaching children to fit into a specific system having changed and advances in technology, allowing students to gather information at a more rapid pace, Mavrik says teaching needs to adjust to meet the changing ways in which children learn. This change in teaching will also benefit kids with mental illness, says Mavrik.
Seven Million Steps is meant to be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves and Mavrik, with support from the many people who follow him, and husky Nymeria, are completely committed to the trip.
Mavrik covers approximately 35 to 40 kms per day, about 20 kms more per day than during the cold winter months. The two keep each other company while Mavrik posts updates on his Followourwalk Facebook page. For more information check www.followourwalk.com. The two should finish up their trip in Whistler, B.C.