In an effort to raise awareness of Mental Health Week (May 4 to 10), members of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse canvassed the town Thursday, May 7 handing out cards with fun jokes and lollipops.
The event was organized by the members themselves, said Amanda Henderson-Kada, clubhouse executive director. She is a facilitator for a mental health awareness group at the clubhouse and she said for the last two years, members have met and discussed about all areas of wellness.
“Mental health is not about an illness it’s about your whole makeup of your wellness. We’re talking about staying active, healthy eating, being kind, being grateful,” said Henderson-Kada.
In Ponoka’s wellness group, members discussed what makes them feel positive. Ideas such as being kind, smiling at a person or even holding the door open can go a long way to making a person feel good about themselves.
“Just the simple act of kindness is free,” she added.
To follow through with those ideas, the group came up with a plan to print out cards that have a funny picture and anecdote on them as well as lollipops with a card attached that jokingly states, “Don’t be a ‘fun sucker.’ Smile and pass on kindness.”
She hopes the initiative will start a chain reaction in town and create moments of happiness in people’s lives. “It takes no effort to put a smile on your face and be kind to somebody you may not know.”
Other discussions the group has relate to quality of life, their mental illness and social isolation. Usually members spend approximately three weeks on a specific topic and then move on to different discussions.
“By doing it as a group and really keying in on certain areas the members are really engaging in topics with each other,” she explained.
Henderson-Kada says positive peer support such as this allows individuals to feel safe to discuss important issues with each other. “The peer support that they have fostered in this group is amazing.”