TEAL is a teddy bear like many others - soft and plush with button eyes and two little hearts on the sole of its foot. But this bear has a greater purpose.
TEAL, whose name stands of Teaching Everyone Awareness and Love, currently calls Arrabon House, a Parkdale home for adolescent girls in need of safe shelter, positive life skills and emotional support, home.
Wendy Curnew, an addictions worker/child and youth worker at Arrabon House and one of the organizers behind the Stop The Crazy Movement, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness, said TEAL will soon travel across the country. TEAL is the mascot for a public awareness campaign that hopes to create a dialogue about mental illness and health and how people are committed to end the stigma of mental illness in their communities.
“It’s about working together collectively to end the stigma,” Curnew said.
TEAL will visit agencies and communities all over Canada to start a global dialogue about mental health. At each stop, people are encouraged to take photos with TEAL and write stories about his visit.
“People will upload their blogs, stories and photos to Facebook and we can start the conversation about mental illness or mental health,” Curnew said.
On Friday, Sept. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m., there will be a launch party at Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre (220 Cowan Ave.), where TEAL will be introduced to the community and given a grand send-off.
“The people in Parkdale are such a great community; we would like everyone to come out,” she said. “Our plan is to have TEAL travel around Parkdale to the agencies we have been involved with and then it will go over to Newfoundland.”
TEAL will be on the road throughout Canada until the end of April, when it will come home to Parkdale for Mental Health Awareness Month.
TEAL will then be sent abroad to Ireland and Italy.
To follow TEAL’s travels, visit www.facebook.com/pages/TEAL-Teaching-Everyone-Awareness-Love/149871888484065