CASA charity ride helps people facing mental health challenges during COVID-19 pandemic

April 11, 2022
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Calling keen cyclists who like a challenge and would like to help children, youth and families whose mental health has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Children, youth and families need mental health support now more than ever,” says Bonnie Blakley, chief executive officer of CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health.

“The pandemic affected the mental health of most kids, youth and families in our community, from daily struggles to increased addictions and more mental health diagnoses and illnesses.

“CASA mental health professionals have seen not only an increase in demand for services but also a higher acuity of illness than previously seen.”

OK, all you cyclists aching to get out on the roads training now that spring is here.

How about a bike ride over the Highwood Pass, the highest paved mountain pass in Canada, and then a pedal through Waterton National Park, where the Prairies slam into the Rocky Mountains?

Our ride will then drop into Writing-on-Stone National Park to check out the First Nations rock carvings, and then it is onto the forested-and-lake strewn Cypress Hills, which at 1,466 metres, is the highest point of land between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador.

Nadine Samycia, our longtime CASA bike tour leader, says non-profit CASA needs help in providing its services and covering the cost of the ride and cyclists are asked to raise $4,000 each. But good news: the fundraising deadline is the end of the year.

“CASA is leveling up its services to the community with a plan to double the number of kids and families we help each year, and to focus on kids who may have been underserved in the past,” says Blakley

“Our vision is a community where all children and families have access to timely mental health services and are empowered to thrive.”

If you think this ride sounds overly demanding, please consider Blakley.

“As a mother of seven, and just shy of her 50th birthday with no previous cycling experience, Bonnie successfully completed a 120-kilometre in one day of our tour near Edmonton last year,” says Samycia.

“She believes almost anyone can step up to this challenge and support kids’ mental health in our community.”

The June 23-July 1 CASA Cycle Tour is extremely important to CASA, raising approximately $1 million since it began in 2015.

From experience, I know our riders form lasting friendships and feel they are a member of a family determined to support a cause dear to them, our support crew, donors, and the community.

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