Speak Up Walk will gather people who want to reduce mental illness and the pain it causes

LEAWOOD, Kan. --  People from all walks of life will turn out Sunday, Sept. 17th for the Speak Up Walk, an event meant to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness.

The walk begins at 9:00 a.m., at the Ironwoods Park Amphitheater, 14701 Mission Road, Leawood, Kan. The complete route is 1.34 miles (about 2.15 km) but participants are welcome to do it more than once if they desire a longer walk. There is also a much shorter loop – less than ½ mile for those that want a shorter route. Click here to register or to donate. FOX 4's Abby Eden will be emcee for the event.

Before the walk starts, there will be brief comments to explain the walk's mission and how to use the walk to practice “starting a conversation” about mental health. After the walk, participants will hear more about the families who started the walk in honor of the children they lost. The Arkin and Doss families share the same devastation in losing a beloved child in 2015: Jason Arkin and Sara Prideaux.

"We want to encourage open conversations with our children and educate our community about the different signs of children who may be at risk. We hope that you will join our fight and pledge to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide," the families say on the website.

You may bring your dog as long as the pet is leashed and well-behaved!!

There will also be several mental health service providers at information tables, as well as a face painter, funnel cake truck, and SPEAK UP gear for purchase. There will also be raffle tickets available for a variety of prizes.

Donations to the SPEAK UP Walk, help offer a comprehensive mental health program to high schools in the Greater Kansas City area at no charge to them. This program will include:

  • Speaking engagements at each high school, featuring speakers such as Kevin Hines, suicide attempt survivor, or speakers of similar quality who best fit the needs of the schools.
  •  The SOS Signs of Suicide® High School Prevention Program, an evidence based program that  has shown a 40% reduction in self-reported suicide attempts. SOS provides training for high school staff, who then help to implement the program which includes a screening mechanism for students to assess their mental health and risk for suicide, which then are triaged for follow up.
  • You Be You” year-round mental health campaign for teens, developed by Bernstein-Rein Advertising. This campaign will reach students both in and out of school time through innovative marketing concepts that promote positive self-image and provide mental health resources for teens and their families.

If you are contemplating suicide, please call 911. Click here for other mental health resources to help you with anxiety and depression.