Mood Walks will actively facilitate the development of new volunteer opportunities within participating social service agencies, local hiking clubs, conservation areas and other green spaces both urban and rural, post-secondary institutions and community organizations to create opportunities for capacity building and long-term sustainability. All Mood Walks participants will receive Safe Hiker training, and 20 people from across all Mood Walks sites will have the opportunity to be trained as Safe Hiker Instructors and/or Certified Hike Leaders.
Interested in becoming a volunteer? Read on to find out how you could benefit by participating in the Mood Walks project!
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Benefits and Supports
Walking groups are valuable tools for mental health service providers, benefitting clients, families, staff, organizations, and communities. Your expertise, resources, and knowledge about your community, the natural environment or hiking could be of great benefit to a Mood Walks group!
Volunteer benefits and support may include:
- Introducing young people and families to conservation, hiking, trail associations and outreach activities
- Raising awareness and increasing participation in physical activity
- New relationships with local social service agencies, community organizations, Hike Ontario, Conservation Ontario, and the Canadian Mental Health Association
- Highlighting the health benefits of conservation areas, parks and green spaces for all
- Opportunity to attend Safe Hiker Training with additional opportunities for Safe Hiker Instructor and Hike Leader Certification Training
- Access to the Mood Walks Website for additional resources and connections to the Mood Walks community
- Peer leadership opportunities
- An opportunity to engage with other Volunteers
In addition to being responsible for hosting Mood Walks groups, Lead Organizations will also provide participating volunteers with guidance and support about engaging with youth who are at risk or experiencing mental health issues.
You will not be expected to be an expert in mental health to be part of Mood Walks, although your appreciation of mental health issues will likely increase as part of the program!
Be a Mood Walks Volunteer
Mood Walks groups are led by local community organizations. Lead Organizations assume all leadership and responsibility for their group, especially regarding interactions with participants who may be experiencing mental health issues.
Local hiking clubs, parks and conservation areas, urban green space initiatives, schools, and other community partners will also be supported in establishing lasting relationships with community agencies participating in Mood Walks. What these partnerships look like may vary from site to site as all partners work together to determine the best way to utilize each other’s strengths while respecting each partner’s available time and resources.
Here are some ways we envision you might volunteer or support a Mood Walks group:
- Contribute your hiking knowledge and skills as a volunteer hike leader.
- Share your knowledge of local green spaces and hiking trails — recommend a hiking route, or volunteer your time to pre-walk a trail.
- Attend walks as a supportive volunteer.
- Provide transportation — help Mood Walks participants get to and from hiking trails.
- Help an organization evaluate the success of their Mood Walks group.
- Spread the word — if you are social media-savvy, you could promote the Mood Walks group using your website or Twitter account.
We are interested in your feedback about being part of Mood Walks every step of the way. You can reach the Project Manager at [email protected] at any point with questions, comments, or suggestions.
Who Can Be a Volunteer?
Any individual or student that can offer support to a Mood Walks program is welcome to reach out to a local Mood Walks group!