Changing gears for mental health

Over 130 people put pedal to the pavement at the annual Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t hide event June 21.

Steve Hackenberg on his recumbent bicycle leads a group of riders along the pathway at the start of the annual Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don't Hide awareness and fundraising event which brought in over $27

Steve Hackenberg on his recumbent bicycle leads a group of riders along the pathway at the start of the annual Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don't Hide awareness and fundraising event which brought in over $27

Over 130 people put pedal to the pavement at the annual Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t hide event June 21.

This year riders, community groups and businesses raised over $27,000 to support a wide range of services and programs for people dealing with mental health issues locally.

Dennis Tottenham, executive director of the Penticton office of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) which puts on the ride, sees first hand the value of the event.

“It keeps people active and less isolated,” said Tottenham. “One of the things, if you have a mental illness, is you stay in your room and our members tell us the programs give them a reason to get up in the morning to come to the club house and have a coffee or a meal.

“It really gives people reinforcement that the community cares that there are supports for people who are dealing with challenges because sometimes people can have some bad times.”

He added that just as important as the money being raised is the awareness the event brings to the community.

Educating the public also helps remove the stigma that has long been associated with mental illness.

“I think we’re getting the message out there,” said Tottenham. “We have about 70 service clubs and businesses and a lot of highprofile people who ride and each year we gain more partners and community supporters which all helps.”