Guest speakers, live music and a barbecue will be featured at the annual Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network’s Walk With Us event to take place this Saturday at Boat Harbour’s Iluka Reserve, starting at 10am.
The community will also pay tribute to Port artist Rick Pettit, who was responsible for the landscaping, design and construction of the obelisk and the seat at the park.
Sadly, Mr Pettit passed away in his sleep last week. His funeral will be held at the Rock Church, Salamander Bay on Friday.
Since its inception eight years ago Walk With Us has grown in stature and numbers, with many people gathering in the park to reflect and remember lost family members and loved ones.
Suicide prevention network member Elizabeth Schiemer said that the aim of the day was to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and to allow people talk freely about their anguish or find information about mental health services.
“There will be a barbecue for family and friends and people will be invited to wander around the walking paths and headland,” she said.
Ms Schiemer said that five years ago members had networked with the Boat Barbour Parks and Reserves to build a seat, walking paths and obelisk in Iluka Reserve.
“Hundreds of people pitched in to clear rubbish and restore a neglected reserve to create a dedicated place for solace, remembrance, reflection and inspiration,” she said. “Our members are now raising funds to build a labyrinth for mindfulness meditation.”
The event is growing momentum each year. A little more than 100 people attended last year’s Walk With Us event and the network is expecting even more this year.
The walk will begin at Solace Place and take in the beautiful coastal scenery of Boat Harbour, including the whale watch platform and the Cairn.
The walk will coincide with R U OK? Day which will be held on Thursday, September 13.
R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask “are you okay?” and support those struggling with life.
The day is about inspiring people to start these conversations every day of the year. Help get your school, workplace and community asking “are you okay?”.
The network sponsors suicide prevention training programs from Wesley and Lifeline in an effort to have more people in the community able to respond to a person experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.
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