Tickets are now on sale for an event in Lacombe next month that aims to raise money for those suffering from schizophrenia in Alberta.
The Schizophrenia Society of Alberta’s 7th Annual Campaign Kick-off fundraising event takes place at the Lacombe Memorial Centre November 3 and features guest speaker Michael Landsberg from TSN.
Rubyann Rice, Provincial Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, says their fundraising goal for the campaign which runs until December 31, is $150,000.
“The money will go towards programs for people living with schizophrenia and their families and also our online programs as well,” states Rice. “The campaign kick-off features Michael Landsberg who is one of Canada’s strongest advocates for those living with mental illness. He himself lives with depression and anxiety disorder and when he spoke about that, he really helped reduce the stigma and help others who are suffering in silence to come out and speak about their experience with mental illness.”
The campaign kick-off event being held in central Alberta for the first time ever, also includes a networking reception, live music from singer Hailey Benedict, a three-course gourmet dinner, wine cork pull, silent and live auction, raffles and a cash bar as well.
“The goal is not only to raise money but really to raise awareness about what it’s like living with schizophrenia and a mental illness and help combat and reduce that stigma,” adds Rice. “One in 100 people live with schizophrenia, so it’s more common than people think. It’s a really misunderstood disease and it’s a treatable brain disorder.”
She says there is hope however and recovery is possible with proper care, medication and support from family, community and the peer support programs their organization offers.
“This year’s campaign is called ‘See me, not my illness’,” reveals Rice. “Ninety six per cent of people living with schizophrenia state that they are discriminated against in the community when they’re trying to seek employment and housing and even sometimes discriminated and judged by family and friends when diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
Rice adds there are many misconceptions surrounding the disease.
“What we hear in the media is not schizophrenia,” she exclaims. “They are more likely to be a victim of a crime, rather than a crime and violence is not a symptom of schizophrenia. We also don’t hear about those 42,000 Albertans that are living successfully managing their illness, going to work, going to university, they’re moms, they’re dads, they’re sons, they’re daughters, aunts.”
Over the past year, Rice estimates over 4,000 people including family members, care givers and those suffering from schizophrenia have accessed their services in Red Deer and the surrounding area.
“We can reach even further with our online,” says Rice. “There is actually a facilitator, so somebody who lives with schizophrenia then will provide an online support group for people living with schizophrenia who don’t have any support in their community. Also for families living in those communities too, we have a family support group and then we also have a strengthening families together, so it’s an actual educational group that they can learn some practical skills to help support their loved one.”
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