On Sunday May 5th, over 600 people stepped up to walk at Lutherwood’s Benjamin Road location in honour of its seventh annual Steps for Kids event. Many more of you stepped up figuratively, donating your time, money, talents, and passions to a day dedicated to raising funds and awareness for youth mental health across Waterloo Region.
Through your ongoing support since 2013 Steps for Kids has grown into a day to celebrate and reflect.
As well as a walk, the event featured live music and guest speakers sharing their personal stories of bravery and perseverance. One mother talked about her experience with taking her child through Lutherwood's youth mental health programs.
She told the crowd passionately. “Lutherwood GETS families. They truly understand that they are not just meeting the need of one child or youth, they’re meeting the needs of families… because we all know that families are what keep things going in the long run.”
In the seven years since its inception, Steps for Kids has annually met and surpassed its fundraising goal. Because of the support of our community this year’s target of $130,000 was surpassed raising a whopping $138,373, bringing the event’s to-date total to over $800,000.
These are critical funds that allow Lutherwood to respond quickly to urgent needs and to fund gap areas in program funding, such as much needed Music Therapy at the Children’s Mental Health Treatment Centre, or to Safe Haven Youth Services. Through the incredible support of this community Lutherwood is able to ensure that help is there for a child and their family when it is needed the most.
Sandra Villarraga, Event Lead for Steps for Kids, said that although raising funds and awareness for mental health is vital, they are only two of the four pillars that make the event so important. The third pillar, she says, is to reduce the stigma. To show kids that it’s ok to say that they are struggling, that there are others like them, and that there are programs in place that can help them.
“The fourth pillar, for me is the most important, it’s for the kids here at Lutherwood to see the community coming to support them,” Sandra explained. “Your support shows youth that you are behind them, and you want them to succeed here and that they are not in their struggle alone."
The funds you have raised will maximize the positive impact of the supports for children and youth who so desperately need it. Thank you so much for being a community that shows so much compassion for its kids, and for continuing the never-ending conversation of youth mental health. Together we are giving hope to children, youth and families!