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Incredible strides for youth mental health

RBC Race for the Kids
Youth Mental Health Supporters raise a record-breaking $2.7 million for Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project

Stepping up and supporting families and youth who are struggling with their mental health. This is what inspired more than 7,500 runners and walkers, to hit the start line at Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square last month for the 11th annual RBC Race for the Kids Toronto. The event raises funds in support of Sunnybrook’s Family Navigation Project (FNP), a program that guides youth, 13 to 26 years old experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues, and their families, through the mental health system to find care.

This marks the best fundraising year to date for the Toronto event, which since its inception in 2013, has raised over $22.5 million for FNP. “Today brings to life one of the most meaningful celebrations of our purpose to help clients thrive and communities prosper,” said Kristina Depencier, Regional President, Greater Toronto Region, RBC. “It’s incredible to see the support for the Family Navigation Project at Sunnybrook, as they work to support young Torontonians and their families.”

“Each year I’m moved by how our community rallies together to support youth mental health,” says Dr. Anthony Levitt, medical director of the Family Navigation Project and chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook. “The entire team at FNP and I are extremely grateful to RBC and all the Race participants for their generous and long-standing support, which has helped us realize a record-breaking year!”

Now more than ever, children and youth are in urgent need of mental health navigation services. In Ontario, nearly one-third of families are caring for at least one youth with mental illness or addiction. For some of the 28,000 Ontario children and youth in need of mental health services, the wait time can be up to 2.5 years.

Thanks to RBC Race for the Kids and private donations, FNP has already changed the lives of thousands of youth with mental illness and addiction and their families, by connecting them with the specialized services they urgently need. “Not only have RBC’s Race for the Kids supporters allowed us to help thousands of young people and their families, but it ensures that we can continue to help the youth of Ontario find the best mental health and addictions care they can,” says Dr. Levitt.