June 20th, 2024

Boo Fest melds Halloween with mental health awareness

By Samantha Johnson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on October 25, 2023.

Practicum student Erin Teichroeb poses for a photo with marketing and events co-ordinator Shelby MacPhail along with Gabrielle Deminick-Meyer, who fundraises, works in peer support and at The Post. Deminick-Meyer has been the creative mind behind Boo Fest with the entire team at Recovery College helping to get it off the ground.--NEWS PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON


Boo Fest, a free family-friendly event, is happening Sunday at Police Point Park from 1-4 p.m.

This is the first Halloween event hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Recovery College and will include a spooky scavenger hunt, face painting, pumpkin decorating, wheel of fortune and a bake sale. While everyone can come dressed in their favourite Halloween costume, those who want to come only as themselves are also welcome.

Fundraiser and peer support worker Gabrielle Deminick-Meyer says, “The participants that come in, a lot of them are parents. As a parent myself, I know how hard it is when you are struggling with mental health or anything, you need support. You can’t pour from an empty cup to take care of your kids. I thought it would be a good idea to have activities where parents could come and engage with their kids and see other programs and services in the community that are offered if they are struggling.”

The mental health theme of the scavenger hunt, which will take place in the park, is the Recovery College ghost pirates are seeking connection with the forest animals. They took the animal’s treasure, but the animals and ghosts are unable to communicate so that the animals can find the treasure that will connect the animals and pirates together. The animals use the treasure for their annual boo bash and a treasure chest full of gold coins will be found at the end of the scavenger hunt. Each child needs to collect a gold coin and bring it back to the Nature Centre to collect a treat bag.

Inside the Nature Centre the wheel of fortune will have both Halloween and mental health questions for those willing to try their luck, and the first 50 people to arrive will be able to take part in a pumpkin decorating. The bake sale will include donated goods by participants of the college and is part of the fundraising aspect of the event with proceeds going toward Recovery College.

CMHA Recovery College wanted to be more involved in the community and build awareness in order to support more people.

“Recovery College is a branch that is part of CMHA. We run courses and groups for individuals on their wellness journey,” explained Deminick-Meyer.

The courses Recovery College offers are primarily for adults and include meditation, yoga, wellness walks during the spring and summer, caregivers connections and whispers of wellness, a group that supports each other on their wellness journey. The college also offers a variety of online courses and more information and registration forms can be found at recoverycollegemedicinehat.ca.

CMHA Recovery College has many fundraisers throughout the year, “but its nice to have a family-friendly event that is more focused on building awareness and connection with the community,” said marketing and events co-ordinator Shelby MacPhail. “Gabrielle has been the brains behind the operation on this one.”

Boo Fest is a free event with lots of great activities and people are welcome to come and go as they please during the hours of 1-4 p.m.

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