CCU to hold fifth annual Out of the Darkness Walk
The walk is sponsored by the LiveWell Office, Students Helping Others Reach Excellence (SHORE) Peer Educators and CCU Counseling Services. It aims to support survivors of suicide, those who have lost loved ones and those who are struggling with emotional health issues.
“It’s very important for students to feel comfortable talking about their emotional health and wellness in order to continue to break the stigma that has historically come with this topic,” said Chris Donevant-Haines, the assistant director of wellness outreach at CCU.
Over the past four years, the walk has raised more than $35,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Last year, the walk won the National Award from the Student Affairs Administrators of Higher Education and raised more than $17,000. This year, the fundraising goal is $15,000. Funds are raised through a combination of online registration for the walk, donations and shirt sales.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a national organization focused on raising awareness for those affected by suicide and gathering funding for scientific research on mental health.
The event is also sponsored by Shoreline Behavioral Health and the Lighthouse Behavioral Hospital.
There are currently 13 teams made up of different organizations registered for the walk, including the SHORE Peer Educators, Alpha Delta Pi, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Mu Pho Chapter, CCU Veterans Association, Phi Sigma Delta, Phi Sigma Sigma, the Chanticleer Girls Dance Team and other groups led by individuals impacted by suicide.
The event begins with an Honor Bead Ceremony. Participants receive colored beaded necklaces that represent different experiences related to suicide and depression. Colors represent:
• White – the loss of a child.
• Red – the loss of a spouse or partner.
• Gold – the loss of a parent.
• Orange – the loss of a sibling.
• Purple – the loss of a relative or friend.
• Silver – the loss of a first responder/military member.
• Green – a personal struggle or attempt.
• Blue – support of suicide prevention.
• Teal – represents a friend or family member of someone who struggles with suicide or has attempted.
“I believe the beads have a great impact on participants who are walking as the visual representation of each color depicts meaning for why each person chooses to participate,” said Donevant-Haines. “Each walker may feel more at ease knowing there are others present who are wearing beads for similar reasons.”
The walk begins immediately following the ceremony, and the participants will return to Spadoni Park for a closing ceremony. The event is one of several initiatives at CCU that focus on health and wellness. The Wellness Coalition provides various services for students, such as nutrition consultations, counseling sessions, biofeedback techniques to connect the mind and body, and more.
“There are so many resources both on and off campus that are available for use in our community,” said Donevant-Haines. “By having safe spaces wherein people can discuss mental and emotional health and well-being, then it becomes easier, with less associated stigma, for those struggling to reach out and ask for help.”
Spadoni Park is located in front of Wheelwright Auditorium at 108 Spadoni Park Circle on the Conway campus. Registration on the morning of the walk begins at 10 a.m., but pre-registrations and donations can be made on the walk’s page at afsp.donordrive.com.
For more information, contact Donevant-Haines at 843-349-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.