Raleigh Youth Raises Funds for Mental Health Services
As part of her confirmation project for church, 13-year-old Blair Bowling of Raleigh organized a team last year for the Thad and Alice Eure Walk for Hope in Raleigh — a walk that raises funds for mental health care in North Carolina.
Bowling's team, which raised nearly $2,000 for the 2009 walk, was called the Stigma Busters because Bowling says those with mental illness often must overcome the stigma of illnesses such as anxiety, post-traumatic distress, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Bowling participated in the walk for the first time in 2009 and walked again this fall. "I think it's nice because we are helping people who can't always help themselves," Bowling says.
"We got together some friends and family and put in the church newsletter that anyone who could get together could come walk, or if they couldn't walk, they could donate," Bowling says.
Because Bowling raised the most money for the 12 and under age group, she received an award at the 2009 event. Funds raised through the event go toward assistance for the mentally ill at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
Event coordinator Dena Birks was amazed by Bowling's dedication to the cause and nominated her for a Kohl's Kids Who Care Award.
"She was impressed that someone as young as Blair would want to take on a cause like mental illness," says Julie Bowling, Blair's mother.
The young girl received the award a few weeks before her confirmation date, something she didn't expect. "I was very surprised when I got the Kohl's award because I didn't know there was such a thing and I felt honored to be given it," Bowling says.
Bowling says she will continue to participate in future walks to raise funding and awareness of mental illness.
"It was such a good experience last year, I wanted to try it again in the future," Bowling says.
Photo: Blair Bowling of Raleigh