Young advocate for mental health running through Brock

A 12-year-old boy is on his way to Brock as he runs from Barrie to Ottawa, all as an effort to raise funds for and awareness about youth mental health.

On day four of his journey, Zach, the young advocate behind, is running from Brechin to Brock on Wednesday (Aug. 16). The trip started on Sunday (Aug. 13) in Barrie and will conclude Sept. 10 when the youngster reaches Ottawa.

His arrival at Parliament Hill coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day.

“Zach wants to raise money and awareness for Kid’s Mental Health initiatives and he wants to ask our government to make sure that kid’s mental health needs are a priority,” reads the Zach Makes Tracks website.

“Zach believes that what the world needs is for kids to feel safe. For them to grow and not worry and be able to create ideas and things. Kids aren’t supposed to be held down by things mentally like adults – and that’s what is beautiful about them. But it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore with social media and the way things are. We should listen to them more. No judgment. No criticism. And when they find their inner warrior and the courage to say they are troubled and need help – be there! Zach has also felt the effects of mental illness from family members, most notably, me, his mom,” reads part of the website’s About section.

Zach is described as a charismatic young boy, known for his empathetic and inclusive nature. He has been talking about running across Canada to raise money for kids health for more than two years so, according to his mother Shelley’s post on his website, they’ve decided to make it happen.

On the Zach Makes Tracks Facebook page, Shelley explains a little more about what has brought Zach to this point.

“It’s hard to ignore when we see kids that are struggling or ill and Zach felt it deeply. I myself have dealt with major depressive disorder my whole life (yes! Even as a child!) and Zach has seen many of my bad days, as well as treatments to keep me healthy and whole,” she wrote.

“I’m flipping proud of this little crusader. Please support, follow or join us as we make his dream come true and raise awareness and funds for youth mental health initiatives!”

All funds raised through this adventure will go towards youth mental health programming at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. According to the Zach Makes Tracks website, Zach has already raised more than $51,000 for the cause so close to his heart.

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