News & Events News & Announcements 2014 SSO takes to the streets: 2014 Peace of Minds Walk

SSO takes to the streets: 2014 Peace of Minds Walk

The 21st annual Peace of Minds Walk gave Ontarians a reason to hope in May, with communities across Ontario, raising awareness and funds to help the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) provide resources and support to families and individuals living with schizophrenia and psychosis. The largest Walk occurred in Toronto with over 300 participants.

Much more than a walk, the event is a call to action for everyone to rally around people living with schizophrenia, and demand attention and resources for those who live with the illness every day. “The Peace of Minds Walk is not just about raising funds— it’s about fostering supportive communities across Ontario that respond compassionately to people living schizophrenia and psychosis. By putting ourselves out there, we’re sending a strong message that pushes back against the stigma experienced by the 130,000 Ontarians living with schizophrenia and psychosis,” said Mary Alberti, CEO of SSO.  

Many of the Walks coincided with National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day on May 24. All month, SSO has been sharing the stories and experiences of people living with schizophrenia as part of its This Is Why social media campaign. Everyone who shared their stories throughout the month of May — Marie Asuncion, Jesse Bigelow, Christine Walter, and Chris Whittaker — participated in the Walk in Toronto.

From l to r (front): Pierina Cincinnato, Chris Whittaker, Christine Walter,Mary Alberti, Jesse Bigelow, and Marie Asuncion

“My experience with schizophrenia began when I was 16. Early intervention ensured that I was well on my way to recovery within half a year. I want to share my story so that no one waits to get the help they need,” Marie Asuncion told the crowd at Nathan Philips Square.

Walkers in Toronto donning shirts in SSO’s signature green walked through the downtown core as people waved and cheered them on. In Nathan Phillips Square participants caught up with one another and chatted with SSO staff and volunteers.  Several musical acts entertained the crowd and children enjoyed face painting. The Walkers were led on their route by the Maracatu Mar Aberto Drum Troupe, keeping the rhythm and pace as they walked along Yonge Street. The whole event was infused with community spirit, joy, and the desire to make change.

Other Walks took place in Oakville, Renfrew County, Guelph, and Thunder Bay. Earlier this month walks also took place in Ottawa, Peterborough and Hamilton. Overall, 635 people across the province participated in this year’s Peace of Minds Walk, raising a preliminary total of $95,000 — making this year’s Walk a great success. 

Media contact: Alexander Ross, Communications Officer, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, 416 449 6830 x 257

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people, families and communities affected by schizophrenia and psychotic illnesses. The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is a province-wide charitable organization that was founded in 1979 by Bill and Dorothy Jefferies in an attempt to build awareness about serious mental illnesses and to support families and individuals living with these illnesses.
Today, the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario provides a range of support services; education initiatives; awareness, information and knowledge building programs; advocacy; youth-oriented programming and a diverse research program with both funded independent studies and in-house research; all geared to breaking down stigma and improving the quality of life for individuals who are living with schizophrenia and psychosis and their families and caregivers.