Spreading Awareness One Step At A Time

Last weekend there were two spectacular events in Phoenix, Arizona. One was the NAMI Walk, which helped spread mental health awareness, and the other was the Walk for Freedom, hosted by the A21 organization to help spread the message that slavery still exists. 

NAMI Walk Valley of the Sun 

On October 19, 2019, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, had a 5k walk in order to spread awareness about mental illness. This is the 15th year in a row that NAMI is hosting this walk. Their yearly goal is to unite the community and reduce the mental illness stigma. They also aim to increase awareness about mental illness and the effects it has on the lives of millions of Americans (one in four) every year. This walk provided mental illness victims and their families with more information about the programs and facility resources offered by organizations around the Phoenix area. These programs include inpatient and outpatient programs, family support groups, peer support groups, group counseling, and more (https://namivalleyofthesun.org/support-groups/). It was truly amazing to see all types of organizations and individuals band together and learn more about mental health stigmas, while spreading awareness about the helpful programs such organizations have for individuals with these illnesses. As an individual who has dealt with mental illness, it was so cool to see the community itself join in to spread awareness on mental health. I believe events like these are crucial, because people often don’t see their mental health as something they must keep healthy. Everyone has mental health, but no one talks about ways to improve it and improve the lives of the individuals around us. This is why this walk and so many other opportunities are helpful for communities as it allows us to gain new information about others’ and ourselves. 

People often don’t see their mental health as something they must keep healthy.


Walk for Freedom 

The A21 organization is a nonprofit whose sole mission is to “eradicate human trafficking through awareness, intervention and aftercare”. Last Saturday A21 and the church Hillsong Phoenix came together to host a walk. This walk consisted of 3 miles of pure silence, as participants walked around the Downtown area of Phoenix. Many held signs about sex trafficking statistics or even just signs bringing awareness to the issue of sex slavery itself. This potentially made a huge impact on the city, because Phoenix is one of the highest trafficking areas due to its large population size. This type of event not only happened in the Phoenix area, but it has spread around the world, providing communities with the knowledge that human trafficking and sex trafficking still happen in today’s society. These walks are extremely important as they help raise money for the organizations that stop these rings. Individuals that walked, potentially have become sponsors in helping support organizations such as A21. A GCU student that went to this event stated, “I loved it! There were over 700 people there supporting the cause. It was wonderful getting to do something that made a difference with such a large group of amazing people” (Sarah Ochenkoski). 

There were over 700 people at the Walk for Freedom event, supporting the cause.


It is amazing to see so much support in the Phoenix community and to see that students at Grand Canyon University are venturing out and becoming a part of the community around them. It is often difficult to understand that we are only in school for 4 years or so. So it can be hard to be involved in the community if you don’t want to stay in the area after you are finished. But it is so inspiring to see that many of the students at GCU are involved in community events such as these two and I hope to see more students become involved in so many more.