On Saturday, October 15, 2016, early on a foggy, San Francisco morning, hundreds of activist-athletes and good Samaritans, of all faiths and even those without, came from a rainbow of races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities converged at Lake Merced Park.
After months of donations, given by a multitude of contributors, over a hundred thousand dollars was raised to support the children affected by the crisis and blockade in Gaza.
Proceeds from the Gaza 5k walk/run went to the UNRWA’s community Mental Health Program for Palestinian children in Gaza suffering from Psychological issues and posttraumatic stress disorder, due to the prolonged crisis of 2014 and the continued Israeli blockade in the Gaza area.
At the event there were several awe-inspiring and wonderful people of various ethnic backgrounds and cultures, united for this one great progressive cause, but the one person who stood out the most to me was fellow activist-athlete and a person I call friend, Chelsea Swall, her toughness still continues to blow me completely off my feet . Chelsea is what many millennials would refer to as a sociopreneur, for those of you unfamiliar with that term, a sociopreneur, according to UrbanDictionary.com is : “An enterprising individual that starts a venture not merely for profits but for inclusion of the communities that so far have been left out of the main stream.”
Well before the age of 30, she has already earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy /Counseling , worked at places like San Francisco suicide Prevention, USF Center for Child and Family Development, continues to volunteer in her community and has recently began practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern at a San Francisco private practice. What is most amazing to me is how she has turned her family’s tragedy and unimaginable personal “Pain into a Passion Fueled Purpose”, having lost two family members to suicide, she fights valiantly everyday to help people suffering with various types of psychological issues and mental Trauma. For Chelsea this is not about politics or religion ,it’s about curing a disease that according to the World Health Organization , over 350 million people are suffering from worldwide. An agonizing disease that at its worst, can lead to suicide, the World Health Organization states: Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.”
I am pleased to say Chelsea and I have become good friends over time. Here is some of our conversation from the event :
Me: where are you originally from?
Chelsea : San Diego
Me: What made you come to San Francisco?
Chelsea : I came here for graduate school at San Francisco State University . I also loved the openness of alot of the people here.
Me: what age were you when you decided psychology was the path you wanted to take in life?
Chelsea: in high school I took a psychology class and volunteered at a hospice, but junior year of college is when I knew for sure, that I wanted to work in mental health.
Me: what do you want to accomplish by being here today?
Chelsea : bring awareness and raise money for a good cause.
Me: do you plan to continue to do community volunteering and activism for mental health causes?
Chelsea : yes
For those of you interested in seeing an amazing therapist in the Bay Area, use the link below to contact Chelsea Swall :
Proceeds from this 5k walk / run benefit the UNRWA’S Community Mental Health Program, for children in Palestine suffering from PTSD and other psychological trauma, due to the blockade and current conflict in the region.
The situation is so dire, the internationally-known scientist, historian, social critic and political activist, Noam Chomsky said the occupation in Palestine is worst than the Apartheid of the South African past.
Noam Chomsky on BDS and How the Israeli Occupation is “Much Worse Than Apartheid”