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Healthy body leads to healthy mind

The Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council hosts Elmira skating event, seeing a link between physical activity and improvements to our mental health; partners with Lutherwood
Marwah Hammoud, administrative assistant with Lutherwood, Elisa Brewer-Singh, program coordinator for WRSPC, and Andrea Dunn, human resources manager at Lutherwood, on the ice at the sponsored family skate Jan. 4 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira. Some 200 people come out for the two-hour skate. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]
The Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council hosts Elmira skating event, seeing a link between physical activity and improvements to our mental health; partners with Lutherwood
Marwah Hammoud, administrative assistant with Lutherwood, Elisa Brewer-Singh, program coordinator for WRSPC, and Andrea Dunn, human resources manager at Lutherwood, on the ice at the sponsored family skate Jan. 4 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira. Some 200 people come out for the two-hour skate. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]
Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council sponsored a free community family skate last Thursday in Elmira alongside co-sponsor Lutherwood. Players from the Elmira Sugar Kings joined near 200 skaters for the fifth annual skate at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.

Initially starting as a result of some funding from the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival in 2012, the organization found that offering a skate for the community would align with their desire to give back in a positive way.

“We wanted to find a way to give back to the community in Elmira, so we came out to do the Elmira skate, and we partnered with the Sugar Kings,” explained Elisa Brewer-Singh, executive director of WRSPC. “It’s about positive messaging – all around the boards you’ll see there are posters that have some positive messaging things like, ‘You are awesome’ or ‘You are loved,’ whatever it might be. It’s a great way to be in the community and do some physical activity, which is great for your mental health.”

Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative mood. That, in turn, enhances self-esteem and cognitive function. So something like a public skate was seen as an excellent fit for the organization, she explained.

“We just know that being active is great for your mental health, so that ability to increase the positive endorphins and to lower your stress,” said Brewer-Singh. “When we look at all of the ways that we are able to cope with stress, physical activity is one of the pieces. It’s sort of a giant pie – we know that physical activity is a very important piece and so we wanted to be able to do something that would be important to the community.”

Brewer-Singh has been the program coordinator for WRSPC since July 2016. She is now transitioning into the new executive director role with the council. A non-profit voluntary organization, the WRSPC promotes a community-wide strategy to reduce the incidence of suicidal behavior through public awareness, education, skill development, and public health advocacy.

For the event, the organization partnered with Lutherwood, a non-proft social services agency in Waterloo Region that offers a program called Front Door that’s available in both Woolwich and Wellesley townships.

Chris Sellers, director of communications, marketing and strategy for Lutherwood, explained that Front Door is a joint operation of Carizon and Lutherwood. By appointment, residents can access a single counselling and consultation session in which a staff person can help parents, children and youth up to their 18th birthday who are struggling with issues of behaviour, emotions, self-harm, relationships, problems at school or their mental health – whether diagnosed or not. If needed, they can provide referrals to other community resources or more intensive services as needed.

Front Door is offered by appointment Tuesdays at the Wellesley Township Community Health Centre in Wellesley and Thursdays at the Woolwich Counselling Centre in Elmira.

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