Ypsilanti Community Schools has partnered with local organizations to host its first-ever F.A.C.E. Mental Health Awareness Fair on Saturday, May 20, from 12-3 p.m. in Prospect Park.
The fair aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health while also highlighting mental wellness. The event will welcome a variety of community vendors that will provide attendees with mental health resources, food, and activities.
The school district has partnered with three organizations for this event: Family and Community Empowerment (F.A.C.E.), Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students (TRAILS), and National Alliance on Mental Illness Washtenaw County (NAMI).
Regarding the creation of the fair, the idea was sparked by TRAILS who approached the school district.
As the organization has had a five-year partnership with Ypsilanti Community Schools, which is funded through a Department of Education grant that ends this year, TRAILS wanted to host a wider-scale event to honor Mental Health Awareness Month.
"The whole point is just to connect the people, the community with the resources of the community, so that’s something that we wanted to do," Audra Adu, TRAILS site coordinator for Ypsilanti Community Middle School, said. "Not just talk about mental health, but to actually give people places to go... "
Resources available at the fair will cover some of the different avenues of promoting one's mental well-being. Some of these resources are a table hosted by Washtenaw Community College (WCC) that will focus on the use of meditation, and the Ypsilanti District Library bookmobile that will be present to highlight literature's effect on the mind.
"Our district, our families, there’s been a stigma around mental health service; keeping the long cliché of ‘whatever happens in the house, in the family, stays in the family,'" Cherisa Allen, community liason for Ypsilanti Community Schools, said. "And so right now, we are really trying to push that it is okay to not be okay, and that there are services out here."
A panel is also scheduled to take place that will consist of a parent, a therapist and a younger individual who has experienced struggles with mental health. It will be moderated by a doctor with knowledge in the realm of mental healthcare.
The fair will be free to all community members, and no prior registration is required.
"We are always going to be that community connection, regardless if you are in our school district or not," Taryn Willis, event contractor for Ypsilanti Community Schools, said.
Leslie Davis, marketing and communications coordinator for Ypsilanti Community Schools, and Chardae Korhonen, TRAILS site coordinator for Ypsilanti Community High School, have also been involved in the fair's creation and planning.
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