Every minute of every day, kids across Canada can chat with professional counsellors at Kids Help Phone who will listen when no one else can or will.
Every day, the Kids Help Phone provides free, confidential and anonymous counselling to kids between the ages of five and 20.
This weekend, communities across the country are holding Walk So Kids Can Talk, the annual fundraiser for the Kids Help Phone. And for the first time, the event is being held in Vernon.
Local organizer Kevin McCarty said Sunday’s event at Polson Park is shaping up to be plenty of fun for participants in addition to being an important fundraiser for the Kids Help Phone.
“I work at Kal Tire, which has been involved since 2010 starting in the Lower Mainland, and then it grew to Alberta, then to Ontario, and then Kal Tire got involved as a national sponsor and is sponsoring a variety of walks across Canada,” said McCarty, adding that the event takes place in 40 communities across Canada.
The Kids Help Phone receives calls from 500 young people every day.
“I do feel it’s an important service, because it’s available to every kid and youth in Canada as long as they have access to a phone,” said McCarty. “It offers professional counselling, 24/7 and a lot of kids don’t have access to that.
“It’s a resource line, and kids call for a variety of reasons such as if they are struggling with school, and they can ask questions.”
Presented by BMO, the Walk So Kids Can Talk is a five km walk where thousands of people across Canada join together to support kids’ emotional well-being by raising funds for Kids Help Phone. With Sun FM’s Betty Selin as emcee, this is a fun-filled event for all ages.
“This is the major fundraiser for the Kids Help phone and while people are encouraged to collect pledges in advance, there is no minimum donation to participate — even if you don’t collect pledges, come down and enjoy the day; no donation is too small.”
The kids’ zone will feature a bouncy castle, face painting, clowns and a photo booth. The Vernon library is setting up a small display. The Okanagan Science Centre will have a display. There will also be a photo booth, a games tent with Queen and Princess Silver Star in attendance and a kids’ activity hosted by Davison Orchards.
The Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band will kick off the walk, and for the adults there will be live music and free 10-minute massages by students from the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy.
“Another area is the sponsorship zone, where we’ll have a variety of co-sponsors setting up displays with information about what their company does,” said McCarty.
And to keep everyone fed, the food zone will feature a barbecue with hot dogs donated by Butcher Boys.
“Anyone who joins the walk, no matter how much they raise, will have access to the barbecue,” said McCarty. “The most important thing is participation and bringing the community together around this cause, to have this presence in the park and have that atmosphere and feel the excitement in the park, so we want to make it really open, with no barriers to participating.
“And the groups we’ve brought together to be in the kids zone we want to have those connections between the community to happen as well.”
The Walk So Kids Can Talk takes place Sunday at Polson Park, with registration starting at 10 a.m. and the walk at 11 a.m. To register in advance, to print out a pledge form or for more information, see http://walksokidscantalk.ca/
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Every minute of every day, no matter where kids are, the Kids Help Phone is available, in both English and French, at 1-800-668-6868.