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Dozens are going 'Barefoot for Bipolar' in Vancouver this weekend

(Courtesy Vancouver Park Board)

Dozens of people are expected to walk 'Barefoot for Bipolar' on Sunday, raising awareness and support

The first-ever Barefoot for Bipolar walk will be held in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Sunday

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – They’re pounding the pavement on their way to a stigma-free world.

The first-ever “Barefoot for Bipolar” walk will be kicking off in Stanley Park on Sunday.┬áBen Garner was inspired to start the event after his own struggles with bipolar disorder.

“This has been my project for the past three years, coming back from an episode in India that kind of triggered all of this and that was a pretty traumatic experience for me,” he explains. “Most of my dealings with my mental health are usually institutionalized settings, so group settings, things like that. So, this was an opportunity to bring the community together with people who have a mental illness in an anonymous kind of way.”

(Courtesy Stigma Free Zone)

Walkers are given a backpack to put their shoes and socks in, but more importantly, they’re given a piece or two of green sidewalk chalk.

“People will be able to see all the people that walked kind of a couple of miles in a person with a mental health’s shoes, or no shoes, basically,” he tells NEWS 1130. “So they’re encouraged as they walk around the seawall to trace their footprints and also to leave messages of encouragement or hope or messages to loved ones who the disease has taken.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about one per cent of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder.

It describes bipolar disorder as a mental illness that affects mood, with people experiencing episodes of depression as well as mania. Mania is an unusually high mood for the person, the CMHA explains.

“Barefoot for Bipolar” starts at 10:00 a.m. at Second Beach on Aug. 26.