Plymouth-Canton Schools fair offers kaleidoscope of mental-health wellness boosters – Hometown Life

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A free fair set for Plymouth’s Kellogg Park April 30 won’t offer rollercoasters or tilt-a-whirls, but there will be plenty of mental health-boosting pick-me-ups.
Believed to be the first of its kind event hosted by a school district in Michigan, the inaugural Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Mental Health & Wellness Fair is set to unfold 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 30.
As many as 33 mental health agencies will be represented in addition to local businesses who offer anxiety-relieving demonstrations like zumba, yoga and art therapy.
Although the event is spearheaded by Plymouth-Canton schools employees Kathy Grodus, Julie Woodhams and Frank Ruggirello and endorsed by the district’s administration, everyone is welcome to attend, the orchestrators emphasized.
The fair is 100% funded by local businesses and supported by City of Plymouth, Plymouth Township and Canton Township administrators.
“I learned about a similar mental health wellness fair held in Wisconsin and thought we could bring it to our communities because of the need for mental health awareness, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Grodus, a Plymouth-Canton psychologist.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an uptick of mental health concerns — and research shows they continue to rise — which is why we feel there is a need for an event like this to provide resources, in a fun environment, for people from ages zero to 99.”
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Grodus said the ultimate goal of the fair is let everyone know “it’s okay to not feel okay.”
“We want to decrease the stigma associated with mental health,” she said. “We want to let people know it’s okay to talk about it, and provide resources that can empower and educate.”
Woodhams said Kellogg Park is an ideal setting for the fair given its rich history of hosting uplifting events like fall festivals, ice festivals and Art In The Park.
“Even though mental health is a serious topic, we want to make sure this is a fair-like event in a place where families are used to having fun,” Woodhams explained. “We think holding it in a setting like Kellogg Park will help people feel more comfortable to attend.”
Ruggirello said the fair is just one slice of a large mental health wellness pie the school district is offering to families.
“We’ve hosted a number of events, including mental health townhalls for families,” Ruggirello said. “The model in Wisconsin we’re basing this fair on has proven to be very successful and we’ve reached out to and received report from several people in the community who know how to set up festivals.
“Mental health is not a school problem; it’s a community problem. It’s not just kids who are having problems these days, everyone is struggling, so an event like this seemed to make a lot of sense.”
In addition to food, beverages and expert advice from mental health professionals, the fair will offer tools attendees can take home from the fair.
“For instance, there will be a booth that will provide journals to people,” Woodhams said. “They will have a chance to decorate the journals, learn how to use them and take them home at the end of the day.”
Woodhams said the district has received an incredibly positive response to the idea of a mental health awareness fair.
“We’ve not only received an overwhelmingly positive response from people who want to attend, but from companies who want to participate,” she said. “We actually had to have a cut-off for the number of businesses who showed interest in participating because we don’t want it to be too crowded; we want people to have space to talk about mental health concerns with the professionals who are present.”
Grodus said the goal is to make the fair an annual event.
Contact reporter Ed Wright at eawright@hometownlife.com or 517-375-1113.

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