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Mental health Run for Change fundraiser to take place virtually this year

Strong Minds owner Amanda Lambert says she's looking for ways to bridge gaps in the community with digital events
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Amanda Lambert. Supplied photo

Fitness-based therapy centre Strong Minds has been forced to get creative due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Since opening just three years ago, owner and registered health and exercise practitioner Amanda Lambert has been supporting individuals with mental health issues by complimenting their medical treatment with a personalized athletic program. 

Every year, Lambert organizes the Strong Minds Run for Change to raise awareness for mental health issues and addiction and to help break the social stigma.

However, this year’s pandemic has meant that Lambert has had to transition the event to a virtual forum.

“Mental health is something that affects so many people in our community here in Sault Ste. Marie that I simply didn’t want to cancel,” says Lambert. “Now instead of meeting at the Roberta Bondar Pavillion like last year though, people will be running from their own treadmill, neighbourhood or trail, then post their results.”

Participants can sign up here (and the fee is just $20 this year -  a lower contribution than last year’s).

The 3rd Annual Run for Change happens this May 9 during Ontario’s Children’s Mental Health Week – a time when iconic architecture basks itself in green light to participate (including the CN Tower). With one in five children, youth and adults affected by mental health issues, the week puts a spotlight on campaigns and events dedicated to raising awareness.

All proceeds from Strong Minds’ Annual Run goes directly back into funding services for those suffering with mental health issues – including 1C (the hospital wing at the Sault Area Hospital that houses the mental health unit) and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry unit that works with children and teens under 18.

Lambert’s company also facilitates a gym-based fitness program for people on the unit. 

“The fee is lower this year because we normally give out food to people doing the run and there are free t-shirts and beverages,” says Lambert. “This year we appreciate it’s much different to do it digitally – but we still care passionately about this cause and look forward to the challenge of hosting a digital race.”

Instead of the usual time frame, Strong Minds has expanded it from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

She was particularly touched by the outreach of local businesses.

“It’s amazing that at times like these when small businesses are struggling – that they are still willing to offer something to a good cause,” says Lambert.

Last year, she gave out prizes for first, second, and third place (including a tablet donated by Best Buy).

This year, Pita Pit will be giving out free smoothies to all participants (just show your registration form) and Freshii will donate food.

In terms of prizes, Lambert says she will simply pick names out of a hat. However, local prize donations include “something” from Best Buy (she’s not exactly sure what yet), local gym memberships for winners of the race, and a few other perks from local businesses. 

Look for Strong Minds Facebook group to watch for upcoming digital groups. Lambert is looking for ways to bridge the gaps in our community, especially for those who are struggling during these anxious times.