May 2 to 8 was Mental Health Week and the first of a series of Mood Walks took place in Hawkesbury on Thursday, May 5, at Confederation Park. Mood Walks is a program developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for use across Ontario designed to boost the mood of the community and encourage discussion on mental health. 

“It incorporates physical activity in a greenspace with an educational component,” said CMHA Champlain East Mental Health Promotor Angèle D’Alessio. 

More than 100 people, including students from École secondaire catholique régional de Hawkesbury and École secondaire publique le Sommet gathered at Confederation Park and after a short warm up, walked around Chenail Island.  

“People who engage in activity can reduce their mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety by 50 per cent,” said Mental Health Promotor Geneviève Desrochers of CMHA Champlain East. 

Empathy was the theme of Mental Health Week this year. Desrochers explained to the Mood Walk participants that empathy is the capacity to understand others and share their sentiments in a way that is non-judgmental, has emotional connection, and is between individuals, groups, and within the community. 

Mood Walks will be taking place in Hawkesbury once a month during the spring and summer seasons. The next one is on Thursday, June 2. Registration is free but limited to 15 to 20 people. To register, go to or call 1-800-493-8271.

The CMHA also assists workplaces and other community organizations with developing their own Mood Walk programs for employees and members.  

Hawkesbury Mood Walk participants warming up before walking around Confederation Park on May 5. Photo: James Morgan