Friday, December 15, 2017

Bungy Jump for a Cause strips stigma, clothes for charity

February 3, 2016 by Oriana Smy, contributing writer

“I’m terrified and nervous and excited all at the same time,” says Emma De Vynck, who is doing her University of Victoria Social Work practicum through the British Columbia Schizophrenic Society (BCSS).

De Vynck will be one of 160 people jumping naked in the 10th annual Bungy Jump for a Cause fundraising event, which is put on by the BCSS at WildPlay Element Parks in Nanaimo.

“Jumping in the nude addresses that social discomfort with nudity, which is not unlike the social discomfort around mental illness,” says De Vynck.

The BCSS hopes to strip back the stigma related to mental illness by having people strip off their clothing and take the 150-foot leap of faith into the Nanaimo River.

A participant at last year’s event takes a plunge in their birthday suit (photo provided).

A participant at last year’s event takes a plunge in their birthday suit (photo provided).

“Mental illness is a shocking experience that forces people to face the unknown,” says BCSS Victoria branch executive director Hazel Meredith. “Our event expresses that feeling of teetering on the edge of something uncertain, and the internal struggle to move forward or turn back.”

Not all participants are required to jump in the nude; everyone has the option to wear clothing if preferred, but it comes with a price. The cost to participate in the nude is $55; with clothes on it’s $129.99. BCSS is offering participants who raise $200 or more for the cause to jump for free, clothed or not. According to BCSS, all funds up to $25,000 collected before the event will be matched by a long-standing anonymous donor.

“This event expresses the importance of having a lifeline, whether it is a cord tied to your ankles or the services of the BCSS,” Meredith adds.

Like many organizations in the non-profit sector, the BCSS, which offers services to those affected by mental illness, faces funding instability. Simultaneously, the organization has a need for more resources.

“We see many people on limited incomes,” says Meredith. “We fundraise throughout the year to be able to run our services. It is a challenge spending a lot of our time fundraising when we know we can better spend our time offering hope and help directly to people facing mental-health challenges.”

One area that requires a lot of funding for BCSS’s Victoria branch is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Approximately $2,500 is required to run one of these action plans. Roughly 12 to 15 people will be granted this prevention tool to aid in their personal recovery.

“The funds raised from this event will go toward helping people find a reason to be hopeful and be inspired to take the next steps forward in their recovery,” says Meredith. “For many, the BCSS is a first step to believing in themselves and considering their future.”

According to the BCSS, mental illness affects one in five people (that number is larger when taking into account affected family and friends). Schizophrenia alone affects one in 100 people in Canada, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Meredith says that this community-oriented event will remind those affected by mental illness that support is available and recovery is possible. To date, over 1,500 participants have taken the naked plunge and raised over $116,875, which has enabled the BCSS to help an estimated 23,000 people in need of support.

“We need to show people affected by schizophrenia or other mental-health issues that they deserve our support, and that it is available to them,” says Meredith. “Recovery is possible, but it takes the support of a caring community.”

The BCSS encourages spectators for this dare-to-bare event, which will also have a fire pit, hot dogs, and s’mores.

Bungy Jump for a Cause
Saturday, February 20 and Sunday, February 21
WildPlay Element Parks (Nanaimo)

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One Response to “Bungy Jump for a Cause strips stigma, clothes for charity”
  1. Harold A. Maio says:

    –Bungy Jump for a Cause strips stigma …

    You need not remove your clothes to remove that prejudice from your paper. All you need is a consult with your ethics.

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