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Starling Community Services.

Walk Supports Kids Struggling During Pandemic

on April 7, 2021
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Waterloo – April 7, 2021: The demand for mental health services is increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lutherwood is counting on its annual Steps for Kids fundraising walk to help support children and youth with mental health issues.

Mental health service demand has surged and is expected to continue to rise due to the pandemic-related challenges and stressors people are facing. CMHA Ontario’s Everything is Not Okay campaign highlights this increase noting “74% of Ontarians are experiencing increased mental health and substance use challenges.”

“The pandemic’s precautionary measures have been hard on all of us, particularly on kids already struggling with their mental health” noted Chris Sellers, Director of Communications and Development at Lutherwood’s Foundation. “Calls for support are more than double what they were pre-COVID.”

With a goal of $100,000, the Steps for Kids fundraiser accounts for a large portion of the annual donations needed to support services for children and youth struggling with their mental health. Funds support mental health treatment and supports at Lutherwood’s Children's Mental Health Centre and its Safe Haven emergency youth shelter.

Last year, planning for the physical event that typically attracted 6-700 supporters was abruptly halted just two months before the date. “This was the first large-scale fundraising walk that went virtual in Waterloo Region and I am proud of how the team made the transition,” said Sellers. “This year our staff and sponsors are working together to build on that success by introducing gamification and selling T-shirts and lawn signs.”

This year’s theme is 26,000 Steps for 26,000 Kids. Why 26,000 steps? 1 in 5 children/youth have a treatable mental health condition and with 130,000 children and youth living in Waterloo Region, that means about 26,000 need help. AND that was before the pandemic increased those numbers!

“The beauty of the virtual event is that you can walk or run whenever you like, wherever you are,” Sellers added. “What matters is that people get outside, get some fresh air and be active, all of which support physical and mental health. We are all so tired of being cooped up!”

Steps for Kids is held during Children's Mental Health Week (May 2-8, 2021). Register or donate at

Media Contact:
Chris Sellers
Director Communications and Development,
519-707-1958 ext. 1237

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many dedicated, passionate, and talented individuals across our divisions during my career at Lutherwood. I am excited to continue to be a part of our evolution as an agency, ensuring we represent the community we serve and inspire hope by being a welcoming space of belonging for all.”