Clara Hughes biked into St. Thomas early Saturday afternoon and spoke to gatherings at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Saturday evening and the Talbot Teen Centre the next morning, part of the “Clara’s Big Ride” tour aimed at helping to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. She rolled out of town on Sunday, having inspired those who met her and having started some conversations about mental health
“I learned in sport you can do nothing alone … It is the same with mental illness … If help is accessible you can get beyond it … The most important thing is breaking down the wall of stigma that is alive and well in all parts of Canada.”
The event at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital also shone a light on and celebrated the fact that there are people working in our community to offer hope and to encourage conversation about mental health. For example, the accomplishments of the “Healing Palette” were showcased as part of the evening. Ann Sloboda and Deb Underwood have been instrumental in organizing and nurturing the annual event which features work by artists who have been touched by mental illness. For the past nine years the exhibition has allowed many of those artists to share their work with the community.