Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Grand Opening for Investors Group Field

Photo by Sangeetha Nair 
The much anticipated “opening ceremony” for Investors Group Field was nothing short of grand.

One Heart Winnipeg, a massive gathering of 85 churches was the first event to be held at this venue. This event was also an opportunity for the venue to test out their ticket scanning system as 20,000 free tickets were printed and handed out at the main gate.

Venue Staff, Gordon Harry handing out free tickets.
Photo by Sangeetha Nair  
Event organizers went all out at making the event memorable and enjoyable to not just Christians but any proud Winnipegger who was there to get a peak of the new stadium.

There was a special appearance by former Blue Bomber Milt Stegall, 35 different Disney and Marvel comic characters and clowns. There were also performances by rapper Fresh I.E and YouTube sensation Sean Quigley.

In his speech, Stegall said that it was great that the first event held at the stadium was dedicated to God and joked that this would not guarantee that Bombers will win all the games.
In the middle of the afternoon, during the sermon, a cluster of jet planes launched from behind the big screen and flew past the stadium, making the crowd cheer. The experience was certainly overwhelming.
Sean Quigley                             Greaves and Kowalczuk
                                                 Photo by Sangeetha Nair 
Throughout the event, Bomber fans lined up to take photographs with players Chris Greaves and Chris Kowalczuk and the rest of us just had a hard time putting down our smartphones and cameras. #investorsgroupfield was the tag of the day.

For the past three years, One Heart Winnipeg was held at the MTS Centre in January. This year, the organizers could not get an available date and the Blue Bombers had come to their rescue by offering them this new venue. After this experience, one wonders if the event organizers would ever go back to MTS Centre.

Photo by Sangeetha Nair 
Photo by Sangeetha Nair
Many thanks to Community News Commons for publishing this article. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Future Without Discrimination for People with Schizophrenia

Photo by Sangeetha Nair 
Schizophrenia has always been a very misunderstood mental illness. Some blame the media who relentlessly publish gruesome stories of murders committed by people with this mental disorder. Other's blame the mental health system for not having enough staff and facilities to help people with schizophrenia get better treatment. But pointing fingers is not going to solve anything. 

Advocates like the Schizophrenia Society have been organizing public education and awareness campaigns for over three decades now. But we still have people who think that those with schizophrenia are violent and should be put behind bars. 

The million dollar question is, how do we teach people to be more compassionate? Values like love, acceptance and kindness are taught to us at a very young age. It molds us into the human beings we are today. So let's teach our children about mental health while they are young.

You may think that mental illness will not affect your family. Or you may think that your kids do not need to be exposed to such information. But think again. Statistics show that 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from a mental illness. The average age of onset for schizophrenia is between 18 to 25.

Photo by Sangeetha Nair 
So when you prepare yourself for that talk about  the birds and the bees, might as well throw in a crash course on mental health. Mental illness may not affect them in their lifetime and I hope and pray that it doesn't. But it might happen to a family  member or friend at school. 

Let them know its okay to talk about it. Tell them that having a mental illness is not the end of   the world. There are many who have battled mental illness, even schizophrenia and have become successful, respectable people in society. There is hope. Teach them to love and accept a person with mental illness just like they would a person with a physical illness. This will hopefully change how the future generation views schizophrenia and mental health in general. 

Picnic in the Park - May 24
Photo by Sangeetha Nair 

The Manitoba Schizophrenia Society recently organized a picnic in the Bonnycastle Park to celebrate National Schizophrenia and Psychosis Awareness Day.

Over 80 people from all walks of life had come to join in the celebration. There were two little girls with their young fathers. There were families and friends. There was a six month old baby with her young mother and there were volunteers who came because they believe in hope.

MSS Peer Group facilitator Karen Kaplen with Jane
Jane Burpee, the public education coordinator for MSS said, " It isn't about statistics. It isn't about the DSM 5. It is about the individual journeys of courage and success which we so humbly admire.

"Having young children at the celebration gives hope that they will grow up with an understanding of mental illness, which, in turn will give us a generation that will change stigma into compassion in the future."

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