Let’s Walk the Talk is using the cancellation of Paul Laberge’s walk to invite more people into the conversation surrounding mental health awareness.
Laberge was slated to do another walk from Saskatoon to Lloydminster this summer, encouraging people to walk along with him sharing their stories of mental health struggles and triumphs.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he found it unfeasible to do it because he would not be allowed to have people walk with him unless the were six feet behind, and they would not be able to hear each other’s stories.
Laberge says he was initially saddened the walk couldn’t go ahead, but still wanted to rise to the occasion in order to get people talking about mental health, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot more people concerned about their own mental wellbeing, and that of their loved ones.
“Lately, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting a lot of texts and calls from people who are struggling. It’s been a lot of nights where I’m up with someone, talking to them just to try to work with them, and make them realize there’s so much more to live for. I’ve been there, I’ve been through it, and we’ve got to just keep going.”
In an effort to keep mental health awareness going in the community, Let’s Walk has begun it’s “Digital Walk” on September 28th. It won’t be a fundraiser this year, he explains, due to COVID-19 putting strains on people’s finances.
Everyone is encouraged to join in, bringing their friends and family. These walks can be in town, on an acreage, a bike or a treadmill, wherever the walker feels comfortable.
Laberge hopes to get people making videos and social media posts about what mental health means to them, and what they’d like to see as part of the future of mental health awareness and support. From there, people can use the tags #LWTT & #strengthmarathon to be part of the overall discussion.
Laberge adds that he’s hoping doing this online will garner some international talk about mental health, and there’s already been some talk about it at home and from outside the Lloydminster community.
“I deal with a lot of people around the world, so I’ve been telling them about this walk. I’m really looking forward to this week whether they’re going to go forward with it or not. I have a couple of people down in the states saying that they want to take part in this, so I think it’s going to be kind of cool to sit back and see who takes action.”
Paul Laberge is still planning some longer walks for mental health in the future, including a Canada-Wide walk in 2024.