Mel Lastman Square was flooded with blue shirts on Sept. 16. More than 9,000 participants showed up for RBC’s Race for the Kids, the largest turnout since the run began three years ago.
Participants raised more than $2.5 million, another record for this race. The race was in support of the Family Navigation Project, a program at Sunnybrook Hospital whose funding is fully generated from the proceeds of RBC’s Race for the Kids.
The project was created by Anthony Levitt, a Sunnybrook mental health researcher, and a group of parents with children going through Toronto’s mental health system. The aim of the Family Navigation Project is to provide guidance to families with at least one youth between 13-26 who is suffering with mental illness.
It can be very difficult to find appropriate mental health resources in Toronto, especially when youth are seeking help alone. The Family Navigation Project allows families to go through the system together, support each other and ensure success. For added support, the project connects each family with a “navigator.” The navigators know how to open doors, access options in treatment, and can be the go-to resource for patients and their families, by phone and by email. Navigators see the youths and their families through every step of their mental wellness process.
“If you take a family approach, you get more activation and more chance the youth is going follow through,” Levitt said. “And they’ll have the support they need as they’re going through the mental health system.”