Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NAMI Walk Training

The weekend training for NAMI Walk Managers across the country turned out to be a worthwhile trip. It took place in a town called Ayrsley--uptown of Charlotte, NC. Ayrsley is a vibrant business district with a nice mix of shops and restaurants, all within walking distance from a brand new Hilton hotel.

We spent most of our time inside the hotel, getting to know our peers and learning a lot of great ideas, strategies and techniques for the NAMI Walk.

It was hugely beneficial to meet so many people who work for NAMI all over the country. We felt completely at home and comfortable with each other and shared the common bond of working for the NAMI mission. These photos show some of the people who attended the training session.

The greatest thing we took home is a renewed vision of the NAMI Walk here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The NAMI Walk is the single best way to promote awareness and erase the stigma of mental illness. The Walk provides acceptance. It gives people a reason to talk about mental illness. More importantly, it makes it easier for someone to say, "I'm in recovery, and I'm proud of that."

Every time we at NAMI approach a sponsor, and every time a walker approaches a potential donor, we are raising awareness and chipping away stigma. Even if a person says "No," it's still a little victory because we've used the Walk to educate them about NAMI.

The NAMI Walk is the best way to educate the community about mental illness, and it's no wonder behavioral healthcare providers in our region are eager to come out and partner with us.

All of the objectives and priorities we have at NAMI can be driven by the Walk. It's the greatest tool for awareness raising that we have.

The money is important, as it directly supports our mission, but it's not the main objective. It's about creating visibility, building relationships and fostering acceptance. The money we raise is a good measure of our success.

I picked up a great quote this weekend. It's by Stephen Covey: "The greatest way to predict your future is to create it."

Here we are: NAMI Walk Managers from across the country. A really compassionate, talented group of people.