“Rack Your Brains Rocks Calgary”
On Sunday, June 11, 2017, a community of social justice advocates, came together to raise mental health awareness with an objective of reducing the stigma associated with it. This exciting gathering convened in Calgary, Alberta and was the inaugural event of the recently established social innovation venture, Reach Out Together (ROT). Promoted as “Rack Your Brains”, this event was Saakhi-Yashica Chhatwal’s simple idea of celebrating her quarter-life milestone. The idea ultimately became a jackpot when she received full support from ROT co-founders Aanchal Vashistha and Kathy Chu.
Vashistha, a Philanthropist and e-Business Strategist, was one of the distinguished speakers at the event and heartily shared her personal journey in relation to mental health. “As a little girl growing up in Nigeria, I remember seeing numerous people along the streets on my way to school daily”, Vashistha said. “Some were evidently living in lack and abject material poverty, yet, I could also see contentment and a feeling of happiness among them,” she continued. “As a result of this interaction, I always wished to grow up and live happily regardless of my status in society”.
Vashistha’s emotional life trajectory left her audience engulfed with affective muteness as she revealed the loss of her two only brothers and her recent diagnosis with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She praised her close friends for the tremendous support and comforting care during the loss of her twin brother, Tushar Vashistha, last year on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. She will share her story again during The Destressor Event in Toronto on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Catherine MacAllister, Peer Support, CMHA represented the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and engagingly shared her expertise in lieu of mental health awareness.
The event featured a clothing-swap, a smoothie & salad bar, a vegan baked goods bar, a DIY spa table, as well as a silent auction including items promoting longevity and wellbeing. It is worth mentioning that the event’s brilliant media presence dramatically received a retweet from Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. All proceeds ($ 2,125) generated from the event were donated to CMHA. Chhatwal envisions this will become a cultural affair in Calgary and pledges even bigger surprises next year. The organizers of Rack Your Brains would like to convey their cordial gratitude to the sponsors including Winnie Chan Photobooth, Giselle Wedemire and the Canadian Mental Health Association for their generous support. “We are deeply indebted to our amazingly committed volunteers and everyone who attended for making this event an exceptional experience”, said Vashistha.
Rack Your Brains was the premier event of Reach Out Together, and will be followed by another ROT event in Toronto called The Destressor Event. The Destressor Event will mark one year since the passing of University of Toronto’s distinguished alumnus, Tushar Vashistha, who was battling an undetected mental illness. His passing, along with the drive to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health, motivated the founding of ROT. The Rack Your Brains organizers and volunteers were honoured to be the spring of this new season.
For more information on the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1268329813277996/
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