‘Project All In’ sees support in Ponoka

The mental health advocacy project is about first responders mental health support

Sometimes an idea is so worthwhile it takes off instantly.

That’s exactly how events have fallen for a pair of firefighters and advocates of mental health. Chad Guenter and Gregg Schaalje started a fundraising idea called ‘Project All In’ a mere three months ago and it has seen growth like nothing they could have imagined.

Project All In is all about mental health advocacy for all first responders, explains Schaalje, about having those tough conversations around mental health care. Schaalje and Guenter grew frustrated with the number of first responder deaths due to suicide, he explained. It was starting to look like suicides were outpacing desk duty and they wanted to tackle that issue.

Project All In is a fundraiser for first responders who can buy these special coins that are intended to help raise the conversation around mental health needs.

It’s grown so much and so quickly that the pair had originally planned for 250 coins for the Canmore and Rocky View fire departments, but are now seeing over 3,400 coins spoken for with more on the way. Schaalje says the coins are already set to land in four countries and that 70-plus agencies, including the Town of Ponoka, are supporting it.

The coins are a reminder.

“You’re taking the baton from somebody that’s not thinking clearly,” said Schaalje.

The role of the first responder is to care for someone in need, he added, but it seems that sometimes those first responders are the ones left behind when they’re the ones in need. Project All In wants to fix that.

A portion of the proceeds from this project are going to Sheepdog Lodge in Cochrane, which is a project aimed at supporting combat veterans and first responders. The lodge is a cabin retreat providing a chance for first responders to reconnect and recuperate.

“We’re trying to raise awareness for the treatment end,” offered Schaalje, adding that coins sold in British Columbia or Saskatchewan will have money go to that province.

While he feels it’s unfortunate there is such a great need for this type of support, Schaalje is also excited by the solidarity. The idea of mental health supports is hitting such a nerve with folks that the pair have been asked to talk around Canada.

The pair advocate learning yoga, meditation and opening up the conversation around mental health needs. Schaalje calls these tools mind-strengthening. “That’s all part of us trying to break from the stigma.”

What’s next for the pair? To reach as many people as possible while also managing these next few months considering how quickly everything has moved.

Schaalje added his thanks to Ponoka CAO Albert Flootman for offering his support. “The Town of Ponoka has been amazing from the onset,” he said.

For those who wish to reach Project All In, the website: projectallin.ca has a contact form and the pair can also be reached on many social media channels.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supporting a friend with mental health issues

AHS: Do you have a friend who just doesn’t seem to be their usual self?

PHOTOS: Ponoka Curling Club hosts Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event

The Ponoka Curling Club hosted its first-ever Alberta Junior Curling Tour Event… Continue reading

Jeffery Kraft of Ponoka remembered for being loving, well-liked

Kraft passed away on Dec. 15, 2019, in Lacombe at 20 years old

Deserving Ponoka student appointed to National Youth Council

Yael Witvoet will now be able to advocate for causes on a national scale

Province investigating death of Samson Cree Nation youth in care

16-year-old found deceased outside in Rocky Mountain House

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

UPDATE Human remains found in Manny’s Motel ruins

UPDATE RCMP Major Crimes Unit Investigate Fatal Fire in Wetaskiwin

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Most Read