Leadership studies students from Fort Hays State University have volunteered their time in order to help bring NAMIWalks for the Mind of America to Hays.
NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, is a self-help, peer-to-peer advocacy and support organization for consumers, family members and friends of those who suffer from brain disorders such as bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, ADD/ADHD, autism, anxiety, panic disorders, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses that affect the brain.
Citizens of western Kansas and faculty and students of Fort Hays State University will be able to take action with thousands across the country on Saturday, May 7, 2005, with NAMIWalks for the Mind of America. At 10 a.m., participants will gather at the Hays Aquatic Park in Hays for a two-mile walk to increase public awareness about mental illness and the devastating effects it has on the lives of millions of Americans each year; help "stomp out the stigma associated with mental illness", according to event organizers; and raise much needed dollars to fund NAMI's support, education, advocacy and research programs.
This is the first walkathon to be held in western Kansas for the purpose of raising awareness and funds for mental illness. It will be one of more than 60 NAMIWalks events taking place across the United States this year!
"I am pleased to endorse the NAMIWalks for the Mind of America event on May 7," said FHSU President Edward H. Hammond. "This activity certainly will help raise awareness about mental illness as well as the NAMI organization. I know that mental illness is often misunderstood or even ignored. NAMI has made great strides in helping erase the stigma and educating the public."
Leadership studies students from FHSU selected this as a project because they are extremely excited about bringing the walk to Hays for the first time and help to alleviate the stigma that follows mental illness, said Kyle William, Hoxie senior.
NAMI says that one in four American families is affected by mental illness. These devastating diseases affect more people than cancer, heart disease, diabetes or any other physical illness. Yet there is persistent stigma associated with mental illness and hopelessness among people with untreated mental disorders.
"By talking with people about NAMIWalks for the Mind of America, I've found that most people have been affected by mental illness in one way or another," said Valery Rule, Hays NAMIWalks event chair.
"There is dignity and empowerment in uniting with others who believe in protecting the lives, liberties and pursuit of jobs, homes and families for people with mental illness," she said. "Like any physical illness, mental illness, while grossly misunderstood, is not a disorder to be ashamed of -- the shame is in ignoring it."
To participate in the walk as a team captain, walker, or sponsor or to receive additional information on the monthly support group meetings, contact Valery Rule at (785) 628-0495 or visit NAMIWalks on the web at www.namikansas.org.
NAMI Kansas-Hays will celebrate its second birthday in May. The peer support group meets the second Monday of each month from 7-9 p.m. at the Center for Life Experiences, 2900 Hall Street.