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Out of the Darkness walk comes to Laurel Acres Park

Annual county event raises awareness of suicide prevention.

Special to The Sun: The Burlington County Out of Darkness Walks aims to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and help prevent suicide.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s seventh annual Burlington County Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention will be held at the township’s Laurel Acres Park on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The goal of the walk is to end the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. Kyra  Berry, chairperson for the walk, organized the walk for suicide prevention in 2016, while she was a member of the Girl Scouts. 

“I started it when I was a junior in high school as part of my Girl Scout Gold Award Project,” she said, “and from there it’s just taken off and continued to grow.”

The gold award – Girl Scouting’s highest achievement – acknowledges a recipient’s   dedication to empowering and bettering herself, but also making the world a better place.

Registration for  the walk will begin at 9 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony an hour later. The walk will officially commence at 10:15 a.m. and will consist of two laps around Laurel Acres Park, 1045 S. Church Road. Local officials will be in attendance to address the  importance of mental health and its stigma. There will also be refreshments and activities.

Supporters who donate or raise $150 for the wall will receive a free AFSP t-shirt. Every dollar raised through the walk allows the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to invest in lifesaving research, education, advocacy and support for those impacted by suicide. Over the past six years, the walk has raised more than $150,000.

Berry said the event enables the community to support each other and encourage people to seek help when they need it.

“People seem happy to have an outlet to connect with other people and to be able to experience their loss in a space that’s safe and community-oriented,” she noted. “Bringing awareness to mental health and suicide is so important, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, when so many people are really struggling with it.

“(The community walk) allows us to be there for one another, recognize that it’s okay to not be okay, and that it’s important to seek help.”

To register for the walk or donate to the foundation, visit www.afsp.org.

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