The Thumbs Up Foundation, an Airdrie-based mental health advocacy group, will be hosting a luncheon alongside Mayor Peter Brown to signal the start of Resiliency Awareness Month on June 1 at 11:30 a.m. at the Town and Country Centre.
Kim Titus and her husband (who is also named Kim) started the Thumbs Up Foundation after losing their youngest son Braden to suicide. Founded in June 2016, the foundation aims to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention to the Airdrie community.
Previously called Mental Health and Addiction Awareness Month, the City of Airdrie recently approved changing the name of the June-based month to Resiliency Awareness Month, which according to Titus “opens up the aperture for opportunities to build resiliency and good brain health, all of which is done in support of mental and emotional health.”
To celebrate the name change and the start of the awareness month, Mayor Peter Brown will join the foundation for a luncheon on June 1, featuring guest speaker and Chair of the Palix Foundation in Calgary, Nancy Mannix. Mannix researches brain health and development and she has contributed to the creation of The Brain Story, a free certificate program that teaches users how brain development affects long-term health.
The luncheon is a free event but attendees do need to register in advance through Eventbrite. Titus is hoping to have a cross-section of attendees so “we all start to speak the same language and have a common understanding.”
“It’s getting not just the service providers but the parents, individuals, professionals, nonprofessionals, and community organizers because we all play our part in that resiliency piece,” Titus said.
Of the 200 tickets available for the luncheon, approximately half have already been reserved.
The Thumbs Up Foundation is intending to host a 50/50 raffle at the luncheon with additional prizes like a signed guitar and a painting, according to Titus. The funds raised from the 50/50 will go to support the work of Thumbs Up.
As an advocacy group, the foundation tries to put “theories of systemic change into action,” Titus said. The volunteer-run organization creates pilot programs, like the Harmonized Health project in 2020, which received a $500,000 grant from the province to establish ways to better connect individuals and their families struggling with mental health with the appropriate resources.
The Harmonized Health project, which wrapped up in August 2021, followed a model to better connect individuals struggling with mental health and their families with a holistic approach to mental health services. The project also helped connect stronger and more understandable communication between the family and healthcare provider.
Currently, the Thumbs Up Foundation is working to “advance the learnings” from the Harmonized Health project and “take it to the next level,” according to Titus.
The Thumbs Up Foundation receives most of its income through the raffle as well as a yearly golf tournament, Titus said, but donations are accepted online.