Over 200 walkers made their way down Broad Street Saturday, doing their part to help eliminate the stigmas associated with mental illness.

NAMI Rome’s Roam N Rome awareness event is one of many ways the organization spreads awareness on the realities of mental illness in the community.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI Rome’s main objective is to ensure that individuals living with mental illness and their families have the resources, education and support available to them to find hope and attain recovery.

On Saturday, walkers held signs with slogans like “labels are for jars, not people,” and “never give up hope.”

“We want to replace the ‘I’ in ‘illness’ with a ‘W-E’ to make it ‘wellness,’” Melanie Dallas, CEO of Highland Rivers Health, told participants.

Although awareness is an important part of helping to deal with mental illness, a sense of community is also vital. That’s what the planned Elevation House will look to address.

“Elevation House will epitomize the compassion and support that each of you have in your hearts for people living with mental illness,” said Don Scuvotti, vice president of NAMI Rome and founder of Elevation House told the gathering. “Elevation House follows an international model where members — adults living with mental illness — recover skills and hope.”

A gathering place for those affected by mental illness, a local Elevation House is currently in the late stages of planning and could open in early 2019.

“We don’t have a place and we’re still searching, but we’re interested in finding volunteers to help for the upcoming months,” said Jim Moore who serves as programs contact for NAMI Rome. Moore said the Elevation House will need volunteers and the organization is currently interested in hearing from those who may be willing to help in the near future.

Anyone interested in future volunteer or financial giving opportunities with the Elevation House should call 404-395-5960. To get involved with NAMI Rome and volunteer for future events call 706-506-5010.

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