Community walks for Kids Help Phone

Eleventh annual Walk So Kids Can Talk in Nanaimo takes place Sunday.

Jason Kozubal

Jason Kozubal

Stories of how Kids Help Phone counsellors help youth dealing with suicidal thoughts, bullying, depression and a range of other issues really hit home for Nanaimo dad Jason Kozubal.

“They are just heart-tugging messages,” he said of the Stories of Hope blog on the Walk So Kids Can Talk website. “It just really reinforces how much of a difference it makes. Having an organization like this is an outlet for kids, it helps them deal with situations.”

Kozubal said sometimes youth don’t want to talk to their parents or other adults they know about their problems, whether it deals with a mental disorder, feeling anxious about school or experiencing suicidal thoughts, and he’s glad the Kids Help Phone program is there if his three children ever need it.

“At least there’s another option,” he said. “They don’t have to sit there and just let it build up inside.”

Kids Help Phone is a free, anonymous and confidential phone and online professional counselling service for youth.

It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year-round for any youth who wants to talk about anything.

In 2010, the organization estimates it had more than 225,000 counselling contacts with youth across Canada and the counsellors assisted kids more than 4,300 times a week either through phone or web consultation.

To help keep this service available to youth, fundraising walks are held across the country every year and for the 11th year, there will be one in Nanaimo.

Kozubal, on the organizing committee for the Nanaimo walk, said it is the largest fundraiser of the year for Kids Help Phone and each year, the local event raises between $15,000 and $20,000.

Support for the event comes from many community groups and businesses, he said.

The Nanaimo Walk So Kids Can Talk takes place Sunday (May 5) at Country Club Centre starting at 10 a.m. with registration. The walk begins at 11 a.m. and participants have the option of doing either a 2.5-kilometre or a five-kilometre walk along the E&N Trail.

The event also includes a warmup, a barbecue, musical entertainment, face painting, a bubble machine and mini go-karts from Kal Tire.

For more information on the event, please go to www.walksokidscantalk.ca.