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HELPERS: Annual Shop 2 End Stigma aids youth mental health

Fundraiser on April 29 will contribute even more to the $135,000 Judy Brunton has already helped raise for CMHA York Region and South Simcoe youth mental health programs

Mental health is an undeniable crisis – and for young adults burdened with the pressures of school, social media, and more, dealing with their feelings in a healthy way can be all that much harder.

Local mental health advocate Judy Brunton is doing her part to increase access to youth mental health supports with her annual Shop 2 End Stigma fundraiser, in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe. The event, which takes place this year on Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex (1400 Wellington St. East, Aurora), features more than 40 vendors, a silent auction, and a special spa “pampering area”, where attendees can enjoy makeup artists, haircuts and styling, manicures, professional photography, and more for just $30 a service.

Now in its ninth year, the event has helped Brunton raise more than $135,000 for youth mental health in total – including an average of $6,000 yearly from the Shop 2 End Stigma fundraiser.

The accomplishment is all the more special for Brunton due to her own personal connection to mental health. Her sister was diagnosed with her first mental illness as a teenager and continues the fight today, while her brother and cousin also struggled with their own mental health related issues.

“I feel like mental health for everybody is important, but youth suffer a lot more because either their parents aren’t supportive or they’re going through youth problems as a whole, like puberty, peer pressure, high school, and their studies. It’s a lot harder for them than it is for adults,” said Judy Brunton. “If we can help youth now, it’s better.”

To help raise funds for CMHA York and South Simcoe, Brunton is asking for donations in lieu of an entrance fee. Children under the age of 16 can enter for free.

Vendors at the event will be selling a wide variety of jewelry, skincare, artwork, clothes, food, and home goods. Brunton encourages people of all ages to come out and enjoy the day – as well as bring donations of shampoo, conditioner, underwear, toothpaste, mouthwash, body wash, socks, hair brushes, razors, shaving cream, and deodorant for Blue Door Kevin's Place, a shelter for young men in Newmarket.

“I want to protect the youth and help them as much as I can by raising as much funds as I can,” said Brunton.

For more information on Shop 2 End Stigma and a full list of vendors, visit the Shop 2 End Stigma - Supporting Youth Mental Health Facebook page.