Event organizer

Welland Walk for Mental Health organizer aims to ‘help women be the best version of themselves’

Kaitlyn Honcoop suffered from anxiety and depression in her youth.

She battled those demons and now works to help women facing similar issues.

She runs a social networking group called Support Pack, which regularly hosts wellness activities and workshops in Niagara. The group rents church halls and other venues, and also sets up in public parks during warmer seasons to “help women be the best version of themselves”, she said on Saturday. , before a walk and run at Merritt Island in Welland to raise funds for the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The 30-year-old St. Catharines resident also has big long-term plans to raise enough money to open an ‘anywhere in Niagara’ center that would focus on mental health services for women. .

Although there are other agencies in the area providing this kind of expertise, she said her plans would be a “different way to offer help”.

Services would include licensed counselling, group therapy, yoga and various workshops. The facility would “create an inclusive community where women can build relationships and find support.”

More than $2,500 was raised during the second edition of the event, held for the first time in 2019 and then put on hold for two years due to the pandemic.

“My plan is to have a center where I can offer everything in one place,” she said on Saturday before nearly 50 participants took to the track for distances of 2.5 and 5 kilometers.

Her efforts began shortly after her friend’s father committed suicide about five years ago.

“What she went through after that, from a mental health perspective,” is one of the drivers of the work she does, she said, referring to her friend who is dealing with the death of his father.

She also chats with people about how she managed to overcome her own mental health issues.

“Now, overcoming this, I see how everyone should live their life,” she said.

Mental health is an area many struggle with around the world, and it certainly doesn’t discriminate based on age, sexual orientation or ethnicity, Honcoop said.

The community she created on Facebook involves more than 100 women and has “positively impacted many of their lives by offering them support”, she said.

“People deserve to feel part of something. They deserve to feel important. I believe we can create a welcoming and safe space for women to feel just that,” she said.