Date Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
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Niagara Kidsapalooza is more than just a fun all-day concert for children and teens.
The event raises awareness for children’s mental health and services offered by Pathstone Mental Health.
The non-profit agency is the primary provider for mental health services in the region, serving just under 7,000 people.
About 4,100 of them are children and close to 1,000 of them are from Welland, Wainfleet, Pelham and Port Colborne, said Ellis Katsof, Pathstone’s chief executive officer.
The organization treats people in its office, in homes and in schools dealing with illnesses such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
What many people don’t realize is “a mental illness is the same as a physical illness,” Katsof said.
The only difference is “it’s an illness in your brain.”
A mental illness can be biological, said Katsof, adding that one in five people have a predisposition.
But there are also environmental factors such as bullying or anxiety about beginning a new school year that can bring on a mental illness in children.
Any changes in a child’s behaviour that lasts for more than a few weeks could be a sign that something is wrong. Signs that there is a problem can include watching too much TV, hiding or becoming withdrawn, said Katsof.
“Lots of kids get anxious or sad and there is nothing wrong with that. When it affects their day-to-day living is when it becomes a problem.”
Seventy per cent of all mental illnesses begin during adolescence, said Katsof.
“The earlier you get (treatment) the better it helps.”
In helping to spread that message, Niagara Kidsapalooza debuted last year, attracting about 200 people, said Cathy Fletcher, one of the concert’s organizers.
Featured this year are Mr. Please and Thanks featuring Dance FX, Happy Little Hands Interactive Song and Sign, Mad Science and information for parents about Niagara mental health services for children.
All of the proceeds from the concert will go toward “all the extras” that aren’t programs funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which include support groups and extracurricular activities that benefit children with a mental illness, said Katsof.
Niagara Kidsapalooza is Sunday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Merritton Community Centre in St. Catharines. Admission is $8 a person.
For more information visit online at www.niagarakidsapalooza.ca.
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