The family of Jocelyn Stewart says it means a lot that a fundraiser for the Kid’s Help Phone in early May will be held in memory of the Yarmouth teenager.
Jocelyn’s family says what’s also meaningful is that awareness created from the event will hopefully help others access help – especially youth and young adults who are dealing with mental illness.
“I’m hoping families will see that there is something that they can tap into to help their children,” says Jocelyn’s mom Sharon Stewart. “We just want to help people and bring awareness that there’s this help line so they know that they can get support.”
Jocelyn passed away in August 2018 at the age of 18. The daughter of Peter and Sharon Stewart, she loved animals, loved to read, curl, play baseball and tinker with any gadget she could get her hands on, her obituary says. She was a member of the Evangel Assembly Church where she went to youth group and volunteered at Camp Evangeline.
A picture of Jocelyn and her dog Amani, graces posters about the upcoming ‘Walk So Kids Can Talk’ event in Yarmouth.
Sharon Stewart’s other family – her Bank of Montreal co-workers – are leading the charge for this fundraiser.
‘Walk So Kids Can Talk’ is a major fundraiser for the Kids Help Phone. The walk takes place nationwide, but this is the first time a walk is happening in Yarmouth.
The Yarmouth walk is being held Sunday, May 5, starting at 8:30 a.m. It will start at the Bank of Montreal at 354 Main St. and will follow a route about four kilometres long. People will walk on the sidewalks.
“We want to keep everyone safe,” explains Ina Comeau-Collins, a BMO staff member who is helping to organize the event. “That time of the day on a Sunday morning, we thought would be a good time.”
Staff at the bank have participated in the walk before, but only ‘virtually.’
The Bank of Montreal has been a sponsor of the Kids Help Phone for 30 years – as long as the help line has been in existence. The ‘Walk So Kids Can Talk’ event has been around for 18 years and BMO has always been a big part of it. Each year there is a big event in Halifax.
“We’ve always raised a bit of money and contributed to theirs, but this year we wanted to make more of a presence so we’re actually going to walk ourselves,” Comeau-Collins says.
Staff, families and friends will walk, and the community is invited to join them.
The bank has sent out invitations and included information about the walk to the high school and other schools, politicians in the town, church groups and youth groups.
“We really hope the community comes out and walks with us. We just want to bring awareness and spread that awareness,” Comeau-Collins says.
The Kids Help Phone is accessible through different means:
• Online: Kidshelpphone.ca
• By phone: 1-800-668-6868
• By text: TALK to 686868
The texting option was introduced in 2018. On its website the Kids Help Phone says by texting the word TALK or CONNECT to 686868, a person can chat confidentially with a trained, volunteer crisis responder for support with any issue — big or small. The texting service is available 24/7 every day of the year. You don’t need a data plan, internet connection or an app to use it. All conversations between young people and crisis responders are confidential.
SUPPORTING THE CAUSE
People are being invited to support the walk in Yarmouth financially, since this is a fundraiser for the help phone. Donations are being collected at the bank on Main Street. Sponsor sheets are also available if anyone is interested (but even those who do not collect sponsors are still invited to take part in the walk). The bank is selling bracelets and other items.
The local organizers have also set up a Yarmouth ‘Walk So Kids Can Talk’ event page on Facebook.
People can also visit the website www.walksokidscantalk.ca to donate online.
People are also being invited to bring their dogs to the walk. This would make Jocelyn happy, her mom says.
“Jocelyn had a big love for dogs,” she says, pointing out she rescued her dog Amani from Texas. Their love was unconditional.
“Come out and walk with us. Come support us. Bring your dog. If you feel you want to donate we’re accepting all donations and if not, come walk anyway,” says Comeau-Collins. “The biggest message we can give is the Kids Help Phone is 24/7. We want to make sure kids are aware that it’s out there. If people ask why we’re walking, that’s why.”
ABOUT THE KIDS HELP PHONE
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. It offers professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led support to young people in both English and French. Whether by phone, text, mobile app or through the website, you can connect with the help phone whenever you want, however you want.
The service is completely confidential — you don’t even have to give your name if you don’t want to.