Local runners headed to Bouligny Plaza for a 5km run and a 1km walk on Saturday morning to spread awareness for a good cause.
The Iberia Mental Health initiative promoted Bayou Side Run, in coordination with Heart for Iberia, to help spread the word about May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
More than 300 runners attended the event, which began on Fulton Street and spread throughout central New Iberia. There were new Iberian police officers to direct traffic during the race and participants were also able to enjoy the weekly farmers market at Bouligny Plaza.
Organizer Dean Wattigny said the idea of the inaugural race was to give a different twist to mental health awareness month and spread mental health issues in a different way.
“We’re excited,” Wattigny said. “We’ve been trying to make mental health known, that came up and it’s gotten the word out better than we’ve been able to prove in the past.
“Think of ways to conduct the conversation,” Wattigny added. “We’ve done programs and videos, we’ve made proclamations for May as mental health month. I think that’s generated a lot of interest.”
The event, which started properly alongside the Bayou Teche, also served as a way for local residents to raise awareness about specific causes and dedicate the race to those who have lost.
Wattigny described the event as a success.
“It was a joint effort with Heart for Iberia and the Iberia Mental Health Initiative,” he said. “The idea was to raise awareness about mental health and we got it.”
The Iberia Mental Health Initiative is a grassroots non-profit organization made up of citizens of the parish of Iberia who advocate good mental health. In the last five years, the organization has disseminated through public programs, family support groups, media outreach and social media.