Nine million steps towards mental health for children

Cross Canada walk raises silent issue

Published on February 8, 2017

Year-two of Brett Mavriik and Nymeria’s cross-Canada journey to raise awareness for children’s mental health brought them to the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border Feb. 7 before heading towards Truro and eventually their goal destination of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

©Christopher Gooding – TC Media

Bret Mavriik has some uncommon beliefs, but that doesn’t mean they’re not shared.

He doesn’t like the rat race of the nine-to-five world, and winces at the thought of mortgaging your life for material things that won’t matter a great deal later in life. He can’t understand why people eat fast food even after being told its bad for you, and questions the motives of mainstream media.

He also believes addressing mental health starts when we are young, and his convictions are so true he’ll walk nine million paces to raise the issue.
Last year Mavriik launched the 7 Million Steps campaign to lift the veil cast over children’s mental health. With his four-legged companion Nymeria, he and the husky walked west from their home in Ontario to British Columbia. Now he’s turned to the east to make it a cross-Canada campaign

“The thing with kids mental health, I got tired of all the athletes and ex-super stars, the actors. They only talk about mental health when it gets to adults or when they become teenagers when the can screw up enough to go to jail or screw up and become drug addicts… did they just wake up at 14 and decide ‘I don’t understand life.’ No. It happens very young.”

Along the way he’s met new ideas, learned from many communities and developed his own thoughts of what ails us. Its all boots-on-the ground research towards what he projects will be two books once he’s completed his walk before creating a website resource on children’s mental health.

“People need to start helping people,” Mavriik says. “I don’t know what one day from the next is going to be like. Imagine what it’s like for a person with mental health.”

It’s no exaggeration. Mavriik does not have a major corporate sponsor funding his walk – and would likely balk at the idea if it put the integrity of his efforts into question. He and Nymeria have a small fund they draw from his Gofundme page while camping along their route in a winter tent. Instead of a support team they have a three-wheeled cart for their things. It’s DIY in motion.

As they crossed the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border they camped overnight along the tree-line of the tourism bureau. They week ahead will see them work towards Truro and eventually Newfoundland where the 9 Million Steps campaign will come to an end in St. John’s.

After that, its home to Ontario to take his next steps in changing how we address mental health for children. And he’ll take a more pragmatic route, too.

“I don’t know how I’m getting home yet but I can tell you one thing – I’m not walking.”

To follow Mavriik and Nymeria’s walk, search Bret Mavriik on Facebook. Find their Gofundme page here:

Twitter: ADNchris