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Local man aims to grow as a Lloydminster mental health advocate

A local man hopes to add to the growing mental health support in Lloydminster.

Paul Labarge aimed to raise mental health awareness last year while sharing his and his late father’s story with Let’s Walk the Talk. Moving into 2020 after the trials and tribulations of planning a big event, Labarge has begun prepping this year’s walk along with beginning a new career path.

“What I want to bring to this community is having people feel comfortable talking to me at any time they need to. This is why I want to be certified as a life coach because I want to help people and I finally found that one reason why I was put on this earth.”

“My first goal is to get all the schools in Lloyd to talk about mental health, talk about bullying, talk about [Let’s Walk the Talk] and my story. Eventually, I’d like to also talk at events. It’s very hard to become a fulltime motivational speaker so that’s why I decided to be a life coach as well.”

Labarge’s advocacy began while working on his own mental health after the loss of his father to suicide in August 2018.

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Labarge is currently on track to becoming certified with his new career aspiration, which started near the end of the walk. He says people kept coming up to him suggesting he look into a career doing what he’s already aimed to do which is help others.

After hearing Laberge talk about his journey through the local media, his blog and the walk, he says people who were reluctant at first are now reaching out to him.

“Now more people are coming up to me and saying ‘wow, you’re saving lives and you saved mine’, or ‘you helped my friend and she/he is doing better’. Now, hearing that gives me more motivation to get up in the morning and fight through.”

The Let’s Walk the Talk planning community has added new members, which Labarge says is a big step forward. He says having a long term plan is the biggest takeaway from last year’s walk. Laberge and his team have already begun the planning stages for August.

“When the last minute things pop up we only have one thing to worry about. We don’t have a big list like we did last year.”

With the current timeframe and current planning committee, Laberge believes this year’s walk can raise $40,000 for Project Sunrise. Last year the walk raised $20,000 for the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation’s mental health initiative.

The 279-kilometre walk from Saskatoon to Lloydminster will be taking place on August 17th to 22nd.

Labarge plans for the future include a possible partnership with Bell Let’s Talk on January 29th in the future in order to make the initiative more prominent in Lloydminster.

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