TORONTO, March 14, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Six-time Olympian Clara Hughes has just begun her 12,000-kilometre bicycle journey around Canada in support of mental health, departing moments ago from Maple Leaf Square in downtown Toronto to the cheers of supporters and well-wishers.
It's the first day of Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk, an unprecedented 110-day journey to build a Canada free of the stigma around mental illness. Clara will visit communities big and small in every province and territory to grow the mental health conversation before concluding her epic Ride on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day, July 1.
"Hey Canada, I'm on my way! By now I'm heading west on Wellington Street to CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) before hitting Lakeshore Boulevard on the road to Hamilton, the next stop on the Big Ride," said Clara before setting out on her epic journey. "I really appreciate everyone coming out to Maple Leaf Square to see me off, and I'm really looking forward to meeting and talking to so many more Canadians on our quest to create a stigma-free nation!"
"Studies show that in any given year, one in every five Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness. But the stigma means that many will not seek the support they need. I encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out and ask for help," said the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport. "Clara is playing a large role in helping to gain awareness on this subject, we owe it to ourselves and to future Canadians to do our part as well."
Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk includes more than 200 events organized by schools, youth organizations and community groups in 95 communities from coast to coast to coast. Everyone is invited to take part in the Ride by attending a local event, joining the conversation at Bell.ca/ClarasBigRide, or raising funds to support mental health programs in your local community.
"Everywhere Clara goes, local volunteers are organizing the events that will spread the conversation about mental health far and wide and make their own communities stigma free," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "We applaud these Community Champions who, together with our National Advisory Committee of mental health experts, are vital to the success of Clara's Big Ride and our goal of a stigma-free Canada."
To learn more, and to keep up with Clara's updates from the road on her personal blog, please visit Bell.ca/ClarasBigRide. Also available at the web site is the limited-edition official Clara's Big Ride jersey or technical t-shirt. Show your support for the Ride and for Kids Help Phone - $15 from the sale of each item will be donated to the national phone and online professional counseling service for young people across Canada.
During the first leg of the Big Ride through Ontario, Clara will visit the following communities:
Clara's Big Ride returns to OntarioJune 16 when she crosses from Manitoba on her way to Kenora. For more information on Clara's national route and all locations and dates, please visit Bell.ca/ClarasBigRide.
Clara's Big Ride is powered by the support of our National Partners - Aimia, BMO, Canadian Tire, Cisco, Lundbeck, President's Choice and Samsung - who are providing significant support for the Ride. Thanks to our partners, every dollar raised at community events or online during Clara's Big Ride will stay in the community where it's raised to support local mental health initiatives. For more information on our National Partners, please visit Bell.ca/ClarasBigRide/Partners.
Bell Let's Talk
The Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative is a national charitable program that promotes mental health across Canada with Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk, Bell Let's Talk Day, and significant funding for anti-stigma programs, care and access, research, and workplace best practices. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.