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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Mind Matters 5K to raise mental health awareness

Biology teacher and event organizer Elizabeth Brimhall walks behind a participant in last year’s Mind Matters 5k, an event intended to raise mental health awareness. According to Brimhall, she was motivated to create the event after seeing the positive reaction to the Palo Alto Educators’ Association’s overnight walk many years prior. “I had this idea many years ago during the time of the suicide cluster,” Brimhall said. “A group of us from the Palo Alto Educators Association did something for the overnight walk for suicide prevention. After that walk happened, I went, ‘We should be doing something like this in our community.’ Finally, last year we were able to try to do something in a small way similar to that that tries to raise awareness.” (Photo: Kristine Lin)

With colorful posters and interactive activities, the Palo Alto community will have the chance to raise mental health awareness through a community run at the Mind Matters 5K fundraiser taking place at Palo Alto High School Saturday on the Quad.

Participants will either walk or run the Viking Loop, which stretches from the Quad to the Earl Hansen Viking Stadium. There will also be booths set up by various local mental health organizations, including AllCove and Paly’s Wellness Center.

Biology Teacher Elizabeth Brimhall, who organized the event with a student planning committee, said this will be the second year of hosting the 5K, after the first Mind Matters fundraiser last spring.

“We thought it went so well last May that we decided to do it again in October for … Suicide Prevention Month and worldwide mental health awareness,” Brimhall said. “We thought we’d end the year with it, so we’d do it once in the fall and once in the spring and tie it to a fundraiser for TEAM for both of those events.”

In addition to walking the loop, volunteers will also be holding up signs with mental health statistics and strategies to improve one’s mental health.

“As you run the route, we actually have these big posters made with like ‘Here’s the statistic that’s maybe troubling, but here’s the positive things that can be done about those things’,” Brimhall said.

According to student organizer, junior Lucy Kristofferson, she became involved after hearing about it in a TEAM class, a Paly program of around 120 ninth graders who share core academic classes.

“Brimhall reached out last year to all the TEAM leaders, and asked if anyone was interested in helping to run the event,” Kristofferson said. “I thought it was a really cool idea and a good way to get involved and also address some mental health concerns that Paly has.”

Although other groups also collaborate with Mind Matters for the event, student organizer and sophomore Surya Gannerkote said the varying availability of the organizations can be a challenge.

“Another issue is just getting organizations like RISE to partake,” Gannerkote said. “There were organizations that were able to come and provide materials last semester, but it’s not consistent. So, each time we have to reach out to them.”

According to Brimhall, the funds raised from the event will go towards supporting the TEAM program at Paly.

“Money raised is used to fund TEAM expenses for the year like trips to Yosemite and Monterey and food costs for overnight camping,” Brimhall said. “The TEAM program is also about students making connections to do some of the things that we know are good for mental health, so it’s all tied together.”

In terms of future events, Brimhall said she hopes to make the Mind Matters 5K annual.

“If I didn’t have students on this committee that wanted to do it, we probably wouldn’t do it,” Brimhall said. “But so far, the students have been really enthusiastic and think it’s a really important issue. As long as there’s a student desire to do it, I’m absolutely happy to do it.”

Interested participants can RSVP here.

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About the Contributors
Anna Feng
Anna Feng, Senior Staff Writer
Anna Feng (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her sophomore year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys volunteering, listening to podcasts and spending time outdoors.
Sophia Yang
Sophia Yang, Senior Staff Writer
Sophia Yang (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her sophomore year and enjoys running, hiking, and spending long afternoons reading.

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