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Panelists tackle diverse topics at next Sarnia Speaks

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Tara Jeffrey

Eating disorders, postpartum depression, and how to cope after losing someone to suicide are just some of the topics to be highlighted at the next Sarnia Speaks event.

“It’s shaping up to be a very emotional night,” said Danielle Cooper, creator of the free, open, speaker series, which holds its fourth installment at the Sarnia Library Oct. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sarnia Speaks: Mental Health (part two) features panelists Kinleigh Stewart, Celia Van Horne, David Graham, and moderator Diana Kuhl. They’ll take the stage at what’s become a popular meeting ground for those looking to listen and share personal stories on various topics in a safe, open environment.

“I wanted to share details about my own experience,” said Graham, 22, who lost both his cousin Jordan and friend Kailee to suicide in recent years. “It threw my whole family apart… I want to talk about how we dealt with it, how we’re doing now, and just get the message across that things do get better.”

Since the launch of Sarnia Speaks back in March, Cooper said she’s received tremendous feedback from the public and various organizations, prompting her to launch a new ‘Mini Speaks’ series next month.

“With an overwhelming demand for more dialogues, coupled with limited resources, it only made sense that we explore and find a way to help us meet this need,” said Cooper, who runs the series with a handful of volunteers and relies on donations and small fundraisers.

The ‘Mini Speaks’ series will run in addition to the regular Sarnia Speaks events and will take place in classrooms, gymnasiums, office spaces and will range in audience size.

The first will be held Nov. 3 in partnership with Lambton College’s Let’s Face It student group, on campus. A student and alumni panel will discuss what it’s like to struggle with mental illness while attending high school and post-secondary education.

A second Mini Speaks dialogue on dementia, in conjunction with the Good Grief Committee, is slated for Dec. 8.

“It’s becoming more clear, just how important this is, and how much it’s helping people,” said Cooper. “So this is another way of us to hold as many of these as we can.

“I’m really excited to see how it’s going to fold out in 2017.”


WHAT: Sarnia Speaks: Mental Health, part two

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Sarnia Library Theatre

DETAILS: Event is free, open to the public


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