Independent Perspective 1712 with Kevin Smith about the Kite Festival Celebrating Mental Health at Cheektowaga Town Park.

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Kevin Smith, Director of Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC) and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Kevin.

Guest:  Thank you for having me Ernie.

Host:  It's our pleasure. And you are here because you have all the information about an exciting activity that will happen in the very near future, the Kite Festival Celebrating Mental Health. First, could you tell us why and I guess this has been around for a few years now, how was the need for it conceived and what do you hope to accomplish there?

Guest:  Well, the MHPC annual Kite Festival has been going on for quite some time now. We've had it just about every year and we were having it at Gratwick Park out in North Tonawanda but the idea was to look for an opportunity to engage the community and give them something to do and at the same time, allow them to learn something about mental health, something that we celebrate.

Host:  Well, that certainly sounds like a worthy goal, helping bring people together because I don't need to tell you that there's tended to be a stigma in society about people with mental health issues, even though an awful lot of families have someone that can fall under that classification. Do you know what the statistic is about how many families tend to have someone with a mental health issue?

Guest:  Well, I don't have the statistics right in front of me here Ernie, but we definitely wanted to address the stigma and to kind of normalize that and break down that negative connotation. Because here at MHPC or people might not know we're individuals that work and live in the community and all of us have dealt with some sort of mental health and I mean, we live and contribute in I mean, it's not something that you have to be ashamed of or hide.

Host:  And at the risk of answering my own question, the figure that I've heard is that if you include the full range of mental health issues, that one in four families has somebody that could be said to have a mental health concern. So, there aren't always obvious and because of the stigma you mentioned, people don't usually advertise it, but it's definitely something that people can get to know. Oh, and to tell what you have to offer, I believe that if someone doesn't have their own kite, you can provide some?

Guest:  Exactly, like I mentioned earlier, we've had the kite festival in years past at Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda. But this year, we wanted to do something closer and try to make it easier for people to get to the location. It's going to be held in Cheektowaga Town Park, we have all sorts of kites for kids and adults. We also have some kites that kids can even decorate themselves, so they can make it as colorful as they want or one color or multi colors or whatever it is that they feel that they want or need to express themselves on their own kites before they get them flying in the air.

Host:  And something that always is an attraction to people I believe you have some goodies available for people besides kites?

Guest:  Oh yeah, we're gonna have light refreshments; water, soda, some snacks and we're going to be giving out hot dogs as well.

Host:  Boy, talk about crowd pleasers! And is it necessary to register in advance if you want to come and participate?

Guest:  No registration necessary. All you got to do is show up and be ready to fly a kite. If you don't have your own, you can use one of ours. We’ll also be providing transportation on an hourly basis from the agency here at 3108 Main Street starting at 10:00 a.m. So not only will we take you to the kite festival location and exposure to all sorts of fun in the sun we’ll even bring you back when it's all over.

Host:  Oh, we forgot to mention what's the date and times of the event?

Guest:  The date is Saturday, September 17, 2022 at Cheektowaga Town Park. And if you don't need to get a ride from us just show up and we'll be there.

Host:  All right, and if people have questions, whom do they call?

Guest:  If you have any questions just reach out to Hayley, 716-836-0822 extension 147.

Host:  I think it's 146.

Guest:  146, I'm sorry, you're right. I gave you my extension. Either way, her or me.

Host:  Thanks so much for being with us, Kevin.

Guest:  Appreciate it.

Host:  You’ve been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Kevin Smith, Director of MHPC and I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.