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Over 100 people walk for mental health awareness in Alexandria

Vikingland Community Support Program organized the walk that went from its Broadway location to city hall and back on Friday, May 19.

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Signs with messages about mental health were given by Vikingland Community Support Program to people prior to the walk to Alexandria City Hall.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA โ€” As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, more than 100 people walked from Vikingland Community Support Program's Broadway Location to Alexandria City Hall and back again to raise awareness for mental health on Friday, May 19.

The event was organized by Vikingland CSP to "stomp out the stigma" of mental health.

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Mental health awareness walkers gathered in front of Alexandria City Hall on Friday, May 19.<br/>
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

According to its website, Vikingland CSP provides services and supports for individuals with a mental illness.

"We believe in promoting self-sufficiency by therapeutic interventions and skills training," the website read. "Services are designed to improve independent functioning, enhance social competence, achieve psychiatric stability, along with providing education, assistance, support and encouragement."

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One of the walkers sign reads, "When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows. Not the flower."
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

The event started at 11:30 a.m. in their back parking lot at 1106 Broadway. Before the walk Rebecca Schmitz, Vikingland CSP's executive director and Whitney McClaine, dubbed Miss Northwest at a Miss America pageant, spoke about mental health awareness and the importance of asking for help.

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Information tables were set up by other organizations in town that provide services related to mental health โ€” Region 4 South Mental Health Consortium which helps people avoid crisis and find appropriate services; West Central Minnesota Communities Action which provides programs for energy assistance, housing, education, finances, health, and transportation; WEcovery, a non-profit that provides one on one peer recovery coaching, distributes Narcan and fentanyl testing strips and resource navigation; And Someplace Safe, a non-profit that provides services for victims on domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

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Cars honked as over 100 people walked from Vikingland CSP at 1106 Broadway to Alexandria City Hall to raise awareness about mental health on Friday, May 19.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

After the walk, attendees were able to learn more about the programs above and were given a free meal.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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