20171014 CRAZY WALKERS REACH THEIR DESTINATION
On Tuesday 10 October, the inaugural CRAZY FOR WALKING campaign arrived in Cape Town. After a journey of just over five weeks on foot from Pretoria’s Freedom Park, Hannetjie Buitendag, led the walkers into the Nobel Square in Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Hannetjie walked the entire distance of over 1500km accompanied throughout by walkers who would walk with her in shifts each week.
It was fitting that the arrival was on World Mental Health day, and the walkers arrived wearing their colourful “crazy socks” as this day was officially dubbed “Crazy Socks Day”. This is a theme that will hopefully continue on an annual basis.
The over-arching objective of the Crazy for Walking project was the de-stigmatization of Mental Illness. “It’s not Crazy to have a Mental Illness,” says Francois Louw, CEO of the Crazy for Walking campaign, “It’s crazy to walk from Pretoria to Cape Town, when there are easier methods of making this journey.”
Louw also points out how prominent Mental Illness has become: “it is the number one disability disease affecting people around the world and it has a huge impact on the workplace, the family and society in general.”
In the various towns along the Crazy for Walking route, talks were given on Mental Illness and Mental Wellness. “The aim of these talks was to increase awareness of Mental Illness and to give people some basic tools for coping with particularly Depression and Anxiety,” said Louw. “The talks were exceptionally well-received and I believe an important contribution to the overall project. We shared our Happiness HELPS acronym far and wide, and if this helps even one person alleviate their personal suffering, then I am delighted with what we have achieved.”
The Happiness HELPS acronym stands for:
H – Help Others
E – Exercise
L – Learn
P – Play
S – Spiritual Growth
The various participants in the walk all have many stories about their experiences along the route, particularly about some of the discoveries that they made about themselves and also about this beautiful country, which they experienced at a speed of about 6km/h.
In his welcoming speech set amongst the statues of South Africa’s Nobel Laureates, Louw echoed the words of our late President Nelson Mandela: “Never, never and never again, shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another” referring to the de-stigmatizing of Mental Illness.
When asked about the future of Crazy for Walking, Louw said that this will be an annual initiative, and when pressed for details of the next walk, he alluded to Cairo.