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A million small steps for a Saskatoon woman, one giant leap for mental health


Frances Sreedhar has been logging some serious mileage in her goal to help others.

The Saskatoon woman is walking towards her goal of one million steps around the Meewasin trail system to raise awareness for mental health.

“I started to notice that I instantly felt that I had some stress reduction, I got a little bit more energy to get through the day and then the screen fatigue would disappear as I was looking farther away, and I would be very much in the moment,” she said.

What originally started as a way to get outside and improve her own mental health at the height of the pandemic has become a three-year journey as Sreedhar looks to achieve her million-step goal for the third year in a row.

“This became a sort of challenge,” she said.

After first thinking of a lofty goal, Sreedhar quickly broke down the large number into an achievable daily goal by walking 3,000 steps everyday for roughly 50 weeks.

Partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Meewasin Valley Authority was the next step as Sreedhar hopes to raise $10,000, or one cent for every step she takes, with the funds going to both organizations.

“Fran is a very inspired woman,” CMHA Saskatoon branch executive director Faith Bodnar said.

“We know that the winter months from September to the end of April is a very difficult time for a lot of people. It's important just to step out of that and, and go outside (and) get a little bit of exercise.”

With five times as many people seeking out the organization in the first year of the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels, Bodnar says the “impacts of COVID-19 are still being felt today.” And with inflation remaining high throughout 2022, she says less people are donating to the CMHA.

“People have choices to make,” Bodnar said.

Meewasin Valley Authority’s Amy Wall says the trail system has seen a doubling of visitors over the pandemic, and as restrictions eased, even more people went outside to their local Meewasin trail.

“We've tracked this and it’s really shown that people have gotten out and they haven't gone back indoors,” she said. “Our numbers are continuing to go up with 2022 seeing 2.32 million visits to the trail system.”

As Sreedhar hopes to walk 5 million steps in five years, she’s hoping her initiative can eventually grow to include plenty more people.

“I would love to see it become an annual event where more people are joining or more people are gathering sponsorships and we're just raising money for good local organizations that need some support,” she said. Top Stories

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