On June 14, six-time cycling and speed skating Olympic medalist, Clara Hughes, will visit Winnipeg as part of her 110-day national bicycle tour across Canada supporting local mental health.
Clara’s Big Ride will visit every province and territory in Canada to grow awareness and action in mental health and to help end the stigma around mental illness. Her ride began March 14 in Toronto and will conclude on Canada Day, July 1, in Ottawa.
Clara’s Big Ride is an enormous task, even for an Olympic athlete. Hughes will cycle between 75 and 225 kilometres, 6 days per week, for over 3 months, until she travels the full 12,000 kilometres; that’s an average of 150 kilometres each day, regardless of the weather, road conditions or mountains.
But the ultimate goal for Clara’s Big Ride is to engage residents living in communities along the way, and their youth, in conversations about mental health. Hughes has been working tirelessly to help end the stigma around mental illness. This latest effort will also help highlight and support the work and value of local mental health organizations across Canada.
Tessa Blaikie, from the Canadian Mental Health Association – Winnipeg Region, is the “Community Champion” for the events in Winnipeg. Blaikie, and many others are anticipating a fun-filled day on June 14.
Part of Clara Hughes’ personal journey was to heal through participating in sport. Her initial choice was cycling and speed skating, but people attending the events on June 14 will discover several other ways to take care of their own mental health.
At the Clara Hughes Recreation Park (CHRP), 281 Henderson Ave, Winnipeg (about three blocks north of Redwood Ave) Moksha Kildonan will start Clara’s Carnival with a family friendly yoga class at 11:00 a.m., “To relieve tension, to prepare for being ‘open’ that day, and just to do good things with our body,” says Blaikie. Moksha is sponsoring yoga throughout the day, and prizes at the evening social.
From 12 noon, until Hughes shows up between 2:30 and 3:30 pm (she is riding a bike, after all), there will be many events for the whole family:
- “Fat Levels” will leave kids in awe with their “bike trials” performance riding;
- Mountain Equipment Co-Op will be running a “Kids Cross” bike race on a cyclocross course for young, and young at heart folks in the back grassy fields at CHRP;
- Manitoba Public Insurance will be doing bike skills and safety courses for kids and adults in the hockey rink;
- Many tents and booths will be set up to talk about bike helmets, sharing resources about mental health, including mental health first-aid.
There will also be an “Interactive Art Project” run by Art Beat Studio using painted bike parts to create a mural sponsored by Western Safety Sign. If all goes well, it will be mounted on one of the busiest streets in the Winnipeg – Portage Avenue.
“Everyone in Winnipeg and all of rural Manitoba is welcome to this huge celebration of Clara at the Park” says Blaikie.
At 4:00 p.m., things will be winding down at CHRP with a relaxing yoga class, and a well-earned break before the evening’s festivities.
The Manitoba Museum will be the site for “Clara’s BIG Social” which will kick off at 7:00 pm. Not a typical, Manitoba social, that’s for sure.
“Clara’s BIG Social is a family-friendly event,” says Blaikie. “Everyone from toddlers to the octogenarians can come out and enjoy the amazing space at the Manitoba Museum and the wide variety of activities.”
“The keynote speaker will be Clara Hughes, of course,” she adds. “But there will also be numerous local performers, hosted by Big Daddy Tazz, who is a local comedian and hero to many for how he reduces the stigma of mental health through his performances about living with bi-polar disorder.”
“I’m really excited about the dance” says Blaikie. “It will feature two super-cool walls created by Po-Mo Interactive. The first is a high-tech dynamic wall which interacts with the tweets people post. Everything that is tweeted #ClaraWpg will be thrown up on this wall along with images of Clara cycling. The tweets will show up beside her, and participants can talk about anything – their own mental health experience, photos of their day, whatever they want. People will be able to tweet interactively.”
“The other Po-Mo wall in the dance hall space will move with the participants,” Blaikie explains. “If you do the Macarena, then a stick version of yourself will appear on the wall doing the Macarena. If you do the worm, then an interactive bubble version of you doing the worm will show up. It will be super fun, with everyone playing around in that space, or catching the live bands performing in the cabaret, lots to do.”
For anyone living in Winnipeg, or outside of Winnipeg, Clara’s Carnival and Clara’s BIG Social, are great reasons to make the trip downtown on June 14. Everyone is welcome, starting at 11 am, to take part in the fun filled day.
Clara’s BIG Social tickets ($15 each) are available at: