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Trying to raise awareness for Schizophrenia one step at a time

For the first time since the Strides of Hope Walk started a year ago, a walk will be held in Grande Prairie. Provincial Program Director Wendy Bonertz says the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta has decided to expand the awareness walk to the city.

“In our province alone, over 42, 000 people live with this illness. We created this walk to help bring awareness around Schizophrenia and to help reduce the stigma for those living with Schizophrenia in our cities.”

Schizophrenia is a treatable brain disorder. Right now they don’t know the cause of the illness but Bonertz says it can be triggered by things like drug or alcohol use or a head injury. It can cause communication problems, psychotic breaks, and changes in mood. There is currently a family support group in the city that is seeing 12 to 14 families.

Bonertz says events like this are important when it comes to getting the word out about this illness because statistics show that 96 per cent of people living with the illness experience stigma around housing and employment.

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“That has a very serious effect on them. It increases their isolation, depression and anxiety and other complications because of the stigma and just not being accepted. That’s something we need to really raise awareness for and hopefully change that in our communities.”

People can register for the walk online. It will leave from the Muskoseepi Park Amphitheatre on May 24th. It will run from 12:30 to 1:30.

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