BY: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
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 :
Pictures from this beautiful event:
Video of celebration after the race.
For additional information on The on the crisis in Gaza, please use link below :
For additional information on Mental health use link below :
A look at the case of Alex Nieto, a 28-year-old Latino man fatally shot by San Francisco police in March 2014. The police officers accused in the killing claimed that Nieto pointed a stun gun at them, which they mistook for a pistol. Officers Richard Schiff, Nathan Chew, Roger Morse and Lt. Jason Sawyer fired dozens of shots at Nieto. According to the medical examiner, he was hit by at least 10 bullets. Last month, a jury unanimously found that the police did not use excessive force in responding to Nieto. Nieto’s family had filed a federal wrongful death civil lawsuit in August 2014, arguing in court that Nieto did not act aggressively and was carrying the weapon for his job as a security guard. We speak with Adriana Camarena, a writer, community advocate and co-founder of the Justice for Alex Nieto Coalition; and author Rebecca Solnit, who wrote a piece for The Guardian headlined “Death by gentrification: the killing that shamed San Francisco.” Camarena also talks about last week’s San Francisco police killing of a homeless man, Luis Gongora, within 30 seconds of their arrival.