People First Media program archive

Friends Empowerment Society aims to address stigma, alternate therapies, human rights

May 9th, 2016 | Posted by pfmarchive in uncategorized

picture 688banner pfrAfter two years of planning, a Nanaimo-based nonprofit society, managed by persons who have had or currently have mental health or addictions issues, held its public launch

About Friends Empowerment

The Friends Empowerment Society is a new Nanaimo-based group “organized and managed by persons who have/had a mental health and/or an addiction issue.” It was formed by individuals concerned about a move by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) to create specific health-authority-wide statements about the rights of people with mental illness.

Each of the group’s five board members brings a specific area of concern and interest to the ongoing plans for their collective work. Pictured from left to right (above): Don Fraser is adamant about the value of having a Clubhouse to facilitate friends’ meeting one another and working together; Jennifer Reginato is interested in art as therapy; Anne Turner, being a care giver to her own two children, is interested in mental health issues related to children; Addie Russell is engaged in challenging the stigma associated with mental illness; and Ron Plecas is focused on issues of human rights.

Public launch in Nanaimo

picture 688dPatrick Konkin, chair of the Social Work program at Vancouver Island University, Ron Plecas, of Friends Empowerment,
Charlene Riches, executive director of the Nanaimo British Columbia Schizophrenia Society branch,
and Barnabas Walther, executive director of Vancouver Island Mental Health Society

The Friends Empowerment board of directors held a coming out evening at Nanaimo’s Beban Park complex on Thursday May 5, 2016. They were joined by about 25 interested members of the public, along with two honoured guests who were recognized for their service to mental health initiatives in Nanaimo. Charlene Riches, executive director of the local British Columbia Schizophrenia Society branch, was honoured in the “volunteer category” while Marg Fraser, a former employee at Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) was honoured in the “professional category.”

Each of the Friends directors spoke, sharing aspects of their personal stories and information about their particular advocacy, education, and/or service interests.

We share audio from the launch of Friends Empowerment Society, including comments by Don Fraser, Jennifer Reginato, Anne Turner, Addie Russell, and Ron Plecas.

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Revisit this page on Friday May 13 to listen on-demand.

More images from the launch night

picture 688bJennifer Reginato, Anne Turner, Addie Russell
picture 688cRon Plecas, Barnabas Walther
picture 688fPatrick Konkin, Jennifer Reginato (background), Barnabas Walther
picture 688gRon Plecas, Marg Fraser
picture 689hCharlene Riches, Ron Plecas
picture 688jThe Friends Empowerment Society logo, and mascot, “a dragon named Blue,” designed by Jennifer Reginato
picture 688aThe founding members of Friends Empowerment Society

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