Claire Knight’s path to dedicating her life to promoting both physical and mental health was set at an early age. Her passion for Gymnastics and Snowboarding lead Claire to pursue a degree at the University of Windsor and University of Waterloo in Kinesiology/Human Kinetics. Claire’s electives in University were always Psychology, she grew up with a mother with Bi-Polar and her younger brother lives with Bi-Polar and Schizophrenia and she was on a journey to learn about mental illness and her family member’s struggles.
Fast-forward to today, Claire is a mother of four teenagers living in Centre Wellington and mental health remains a presence in her life, “over the past three years my children have lost friends, my friends have lost children, siblings and parents to suicide.” These losses have started a new journey for her. To raise awareness, support, and funds for Mental Health Initiatives in Waterloo-Wellington County and across Canada through ‘Claire’s Hike for Hope.’
“I have always been involved in the community and I really wanted to do something to give back while pushing my mind and body on my own spiritual journey – I asked myself what is important to me? What is closest to my heart? The answer was mental wellness. We are always talking about our physical health – mental health is very connected but we don’t talk about it as openly as we should – it should be no different than other physical ailment.” Says Claire.
Awareness and sharing resources has become a big part of Claire’s Hike for Hope, “I am hoping to inspire others to take action. I recently organized a SafeTALK training for members of my community. I am now more confident and comfortable asking people if they are ok – even strangers who look upset– if more people take courses like this maybe there is more people that can be helped. I like the idea of spreading mental health awareness and giving people the tools to do something.”
“Over the course of the last six months, I have been meeting with people, talking, and learning about avenues for referrals, getting to know who does what and the resources that are available in Center Wellington. I know from experience it can be very frustrating and difficult to find the right support and services. One thing I had not anticipated happening and I am so happy that it is happening is that people have been reaching out, are looking for and want support. I want to keep the conversation about mental health going”
Beginning in May, during Mental Health Week 2020, Claire Knight will start her 800km personal Pilgrimage across the Camino through Spain and Portugal. Claire is hoping to raise $20,000 for CMHA Waterloo Wellington and Centre Wellington Big Brothers and Big Sisters by holding different events and asking individuals and companies to support her journey. She will also continue building awareness about mental health and wellness through presentations, click here to visit her site for more details and to donate.
Thank you Claire for spreading your message of mental health and wellness.