Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Running to the Keys...

Senator McLachlan’s remarks at a press conference this afternoon at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford:

I am pleased today to honor a community activist and author, Coach Doug Merrill. Coach Merrill is the founder of the Power UP Foundation which provides financial assistance to communities and programs promoting positive physical fitness and positive mental health. The Coach is in Hartford today on his way to Key West, Florida. He is participating in an historic run which began on October 4th in Boston and will end in April of 2010 in Key West, Florida. The run is part of an effort to raise $25 million for the Power UP Foundation.

Coach Merrill is author of the book “Fighting the Demon of Suicide.” The book is part of the inspiration for Coach Merrill’s run and focuses on conquering emotional stress and preventing the tragedy of suicide, particularly in youngsters. Coach Merrill has dedicated his life to this message as he resigned as a teacher and focuses solely on public speaking and writing. In the book Coach Merrill also outlines a ten-point plan on conquering mental illness and the “demons of mental depression.”

It is an honor for me to present this Governor’s Proclamation to Coach Merrill today. This historic run from Boston to Florida is a feat of tremendous strength, will and determination. His dedication to raising awareness, particularly in youngsters, about the need for positive mental health and fitness is a true inspiration and I wish him nothing but the best on the remainder of his journey.

During the six months of the run, Coach Merrill will run a ½ marathon (13.1 miles) each day. He will also stop along the way to speak with students at universities, colleges and high schools as well as community organizations to help promote positive mental health by improving physical activity. Programs across the country that promote positive mental and physical health would be eligible to apply for a grant from the foundation. The money that they would receive would assist their efforts to promote physical wellness.

I am pleased to report that Connecticut is focused on youth suicide prevention. The Connecticut Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Children and Families (DCF), Public Health, Education, and the Judicial Branch and the Connecticut State University System (CSU) are collaborating with the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) to develop, implement, evaluate, and sustain statewide youth suicide prevention and early intervention.

Special thanks to our professionals that joined us today. Deanna Lia is the Director of Community Prevention and Early Intervention for Connecticut Department of Children and Families and chair of the Connecticut Youth Suicide Advisory Board. Carol Meredeth is Assistant Director for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Prevention & Health Promotion Unit and is part of the Connecticut Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative.

Follow Coach Merrill’s “Run to the Keys” at the Power UP Foundation’s website

Connecticut Youth Suicide Advisory Board

Connecticut Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

Coach Doug Merrill (l) is greeted by Senator Michael McLachlan outside the Legislative Office Building following their press conference.