Reaching Across the World: A Canadian Non-profit’s International Impact

 

From an event in India to a global virtual summit, a Toronto-based non-profit calls on entrepreneurs and community leaders to close gaps in mental health awareness and services.

Canadian non-profit Reach Out Together will be pursuing its vision to be “the largest global network of mental health change makers” with a 12-hour virtual series of speakers and performers this July 12. However, this is not its first international event. Another recent outreach by the organization continues to show its impact today.

Started in 2017 by Toronto-based entrepreneur and best-selling author Aanchal Vashistha, after the passing of her twin brother Tushar to suicide, Reach Out Together offers educational workshops, interactive programs such as dance movement therapy, and guidance to mental health services. The organization also hosts public events, including its annual “World Reach Out Together Day” on July 12, to mark the date of Tushar Vashistha’s passing in 2016, to raise awareness of how to recognize symptoms of mental illness, and then properly intervene to encourage access to treatment.

World Reach Out Together Day will be the next major public event for Reach Out Together, following a two-day event in Mumbai, India, which continues to inspire the organization and those it has worked with.

On Friday December 20, 2019 and Sunday December 22, 2019, Reach Out Together hosted a two-day charity event in Mumbai, a “Party for a Purpose.” That purpose was “to encourage young professionals of Mumbai to come together to network, listen to industry leaders, inspire the crowd and end with dance while raising funds and collecting donations.”

On day one, Reach Out Together Partnered with Big Play Events along with more than 10 event management companies, two digital branding firms and the event venue, Escobar, Mumbai, to raise 100,000 Rupees with over 200 attendees.

On day two, Reach Out Together collaborated with a Mumbai-based, Indian-founded non-profit, Team Spreading Smiles, for three visits to children-focused charities: First, to the Access Life Assistance Foundation, a temporary home for children undergoing treatment for cancer to live along with their parents or guardians; second, to Mother Teresa Anath Ashram, an orphanage for children with special needs; third, to Father Agnels Ashram, a charity providing education for underprivileged boys from 5th to 10th grade.

In each visit, Reach Out Together and Team Spreading Smiles brought gift bags with personalized messages and gifts tailored to the charity’s needs: Pampers diapers requested by Mother Teresa Anath Ashram, baskets of fruits that children undergoing treatment at Access Life Assistance Foundation would be able to eat, and hoodies and Christmas treats for Father Agnel’s Ashram.

Reach Out Together considers the event a success, in part because of 26 new volunteers who were inspired to join through the three charity visits. In Aanchal’s words, “We were able to inspire young professionals of Mumbai to do volunteer work. Some of them had never visited an orphanage before, but we all left feeling good.”

For Aanchal herself, it was a meaningful return.

“Being a person who was born in India, raised in Nigeria, and shaped in Canada, it was an honor to be of service, work with the brilliant young minds of Mumbai, and inspire the youth to care about uplifting others’ days,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s not [about] your comfort, It’s about doing what needs to be done for the betterment of a community, especially if you are in a place of privilege. Otherwise, no one will come forward to help those who didn’t have the same opportunities.”

Several representatives from India will take part in world-spanning panel discussion on mental health awareness and treatment on World Reach Out Together Day, this July 12. They will offer insight into cultural and medical attitudes toward mental health in India. the state of access to treatment, and what India can teach and learn from the world about the next steps toward improved care and access.

“Having worked with R.O.T. in India on their visit to Mumbai in December and [having] seen their dedication and hard work….we are looking forward to this initiative,” says Anushka from Team Spreading Smiles. “Addressing Mental health issues is the need of the hour, especially now in 2020 when the situation is worrying all over the world with Covid19. We are happy to associate with R.O.T. and find their passion inspiring.”

Big Play Events, in Mumbai, echoes this excitement. “The R.O.T. 12-hour virtual event couldn’t have come at a better time, providing a platform for people to reach out and voice their concerns,” says founder Mannav Aildasani. 

“I can’t wait to see how the event is paced out…[Specifically,] I’m looking forward to the meditation activity, since I’ve been meaning to give that a shot for a while now.”

Yashica, an organizer of the Mumbai event from Reach Out Together, said, “The 12 hour-virtual series sounds very promising…I have already bought my tickets, and cannot wait to tune in. I truly hope that through the series I can learn more about how to spot early signs of depression, and also take home some resources that I would be able to use all year round, as well as pass along to my immediate circle.”

People interested in attending the event can purchase tickets for the upcoming virtual series by searching “World Reach Out Together Day” on EventBrite. For further information, visit reachouttogether.com, contact info@reachouttogether.com, or reach out on social media to @ROTAmbassador on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

 

About Reach Out Together:

Reach Out Together is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization empowering people to improve their mental health, break stigma, and work toward recovery through educational and interactive programs and events. Reach Out Together has hosted outreach events across the world, from Toronto to Mumbai. Its vision for them is to make Reach Out Together the largest global network of mental health advocates.