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VT Seva Bay Area's 3rd Mental Health Awareness Walkathon: A Stride Towards Well-being

By: Sriteja Kataru, Co-President, VT Seva Bay Area.

"In a world where mental health is often overlooked, every step towards awareness and understanding is a stride towards a more compassionate and resilient society."

On a beautiful weekend at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, California, VT Seva organized its 3rd Mental Health Awareness Walkathon, which turned out to be a resounding success. The event brought together a diverse group of around 175 enthusiastic participants, ranging from energetic 5-year-old children to spirited 70-year-old grandparents, all united in their commitment to promoting mental health awareness.

The tranquil waters of Lake Elizabeth provided a perfect backdrop for the walkathon, with temperate weather and clear skies adding to the event's charm. At 9 am sharp, the walkathon kicked off with a bang, as participants joined in a 10-minute energetic warm-up session led by the dynamic instructor Chakri, moving to the beats of lively Bollywood songs.

The participants competed in three categories: Adult Men, Adult Women, and teens, each determined to win medals and showcase their dedication to the cause. As they walked along the picturesque trails surrounding the lake, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of camaraderie, purpose, and a shared commitment to promoting mental well-being.

After the walkathon, participants gathered in the lakeside picnic area to listen to expert speakers. The first speaker was Dr. Reena Trivedi, MD, a renowned child and adolescent psychiatrist. Dr. Trivedi, a leading voice in pediatric mental wellness, shared practical advice for teenagers and parents, focusing on early warning signs of anxiety, developing resilience to deal with setbacks, and everyday practices to create a mentally healthy home environment.

Following Dr. Trivedi's insightful talk, Ashwini Surpur, a yoga therapist and the Executive Director of Yoga Bharati Academy, took the stage. Ashwini's talk perfectly complemented Dr. Trivedi's, as she discussed how yoga therapy can be an effective antidote to anxiety and depression. Drawing from Lisa Miller's book "The Spiritual Child," Ashwini shared cutting-edge research and anecdotal evidence to illustrate the invaluable role of spirituality in a child's mental and physical health. She provided parents with concrete ways to develop and encourage their children's and their own well-being.

Our VT Seva branch director, Archana Bindu, presented plaques and gift bags to the speakers as a gesture of gratitude for their valuable contributions to the event. 

The success of the walkathon is a nod to the dedication and leadership of the VT Seva Youth Leaders who meticulously planned and executed the event. Parth and I, the two co-presidents, served as the MCs and cheerleaders, motivating and encouraging the walkathon participants throughout the event. Thanisha Kapur and Nidhi Parthasarathy played crucial roles in overseeing the setup and introducing the esteemed speakers.

The concluding ceremony was a joyous affair, with CA Assemblyman Alex Lee’s rep Matthew Jorgens distributing medals to the walkathon winners amidst a jubilant crowd, their mood elevated by the 4.2-mile walkathon. The event not only raised awareness about mental health but also succeeded in raising more than $6,000. These funds will support the well-being of over 20 underprivileged children for an entire year, making a significant impact on their lives and the community as a whole.

VT Seva's 3rd Mental Health Awareness Walkathon not only brought the local community together but also provided a platform for experts to share valuable insights and strategies for promoting mental well-being. The event's success serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and the importance of addressing mental health issues head-on. As participants left Lake Elizabeth that day, they carried with them a renewed sense of purpose, a stronger connection to their community, and the knowledge that their efforts had made a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Finally, as a cherry on the top, Mr. Jorgens presented VT Seva Bay Area with a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assembly, commending the dedicated efforts in organizing the annual walkathon to raise awareness about mental health and VT Seva’s work empowering people to serve their community.

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