Whanganui celebrates Mental Health Awareness Week

By Emma Russell

Whanganui relished the "nature is key" theme given to this year's Mental Health Awareness Week with a range of activities getting people outdoors and talking.

The national campaign has run from Monday, October 9 to Sunday, October 15 to spread awareness about mental wellbeing.

Pathways Whanganui held its annual spring fling event down at Kowhai Park on Thursday.

Organiser of the event, Christine Taylor, said a lot of the people who were there didn't have much in life and it was an opportunity for shared company and to enjoy the outdoors.

"We have been praying that the weather will give us some sunshine and it finally has which is great."

Egan Bidois from Pathways Whanganui teaching taiaha to Julius. Photo/ Stuart Munro
Egan Bidois from Pathways Whanganui teaching taiaha to Julius. Photo/ Stuart Munro

The group of about 30 embraced the day with a Simon says game using the traditional Maori weapon taiaha.

After a healthy lunch at the Kowhai Park pumpkin they got together for a river clean up.

Spring Fling at Kowhai Park for mental health awareness. Photo/ Stuart Munro
Spring Fling at Kowhai Park for mental health awareness. Photo/ Stuart Munro

"It's important we look after the environment and the theme Nature is Key really aligns with what we preach at Pathways ... connecting with nature spiritually and mentally," Ms Taylor said.

A collaborative art exhibition, run by Removing Barriers Whanganui, is being held on Victoria Avenue, titled 5ive Ways To Wellbeing.

Organiser Stormie Hunter-Rogan from Nga Tai O Te Awa said people expressed themselves through art and it was a great way to explore wellbeing.

Karen from Removing Barriers holds a free art class every Wednesday and their works were displayed at the exhibition.

"The art actually keeps people alive ... people used to live week to week looking forward to counselling now they look forward to their art class.

Stormie Hunter-Rogan from Nga Tai O Te Awa  standing next to the paint a patch five ways to well-being art display. Photo/ Stuart Munro
Stormie Hunter-Rogan from Nga Tai O Te Awa standing next to the paint a patch five ways to well-being art display. Photo/ Stuart Munro

"We had one new fellow who has become totally engrossed in it and will be there for six hours and all his worries go away. It gives them confidence and skills," Karen said.

People visiting the exhibition were invited to craft worry dolls or paint a patch on the "5ive ways to wellbeing" wall that will be held in a community space once complete.

The exhibition will continue into next week until October 22 - entry is free, and all artworks are for sale unless otherwise specified.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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