12 things to know about the 2024 Out of the Darkness JHU Campus Walk

| April 5, 2024
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The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks are a signature outreach and fundraising series for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) held at college campuses nationwide. The JHU Out of the Darkness Walk is an annual event to support mental health awareness, suicide prevention, community connectedness, and hope. This year’s walk is happening on Saturday, April 13, 2024. In honor of this being the 12th year of the JHU campus walk, here are 12 things that you need to know:

        1. All are welcome. The walk is open to all Hopkins affiliates, friends, family, and members of the community. This is a supportive, inclusive event. We do get questions about bringing furry friends. Only trained service animals are allowed for ceremony/indoor portions. Household pets are welcome to join us for the outdoor walk.
        2. Registration is free. While there is the option to fundraise, there is no expectation for participants to do so. The main goal of the campus walk is to bring the Hopkins community together in solidarity and support of those who may have experienced suicide loss or struggled with their mental health, and to raise awareness for suicide prevention and mental health on campus. Register at this link.
        3. Donations support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you choose to fundraise or donate, funds will go to fueling the mission of the AFSP by funding research grants, providing outreach and education programs, advocating for public policy, and supporting survivors. Donations made directly to AFSP are tax-deductible.
        4. The walk is on the Homewood campus. For 10 years the Hopkins Out of the Darkness Walk was held on the East Baltimore campus. The walk moved to the Homewood campus last year to engage more of the community, and to improve accessibility. Due to last year’s success and feedback received, we are holding the walk at Homewood again this year.
        5. We will walk rain or shine, and it’s mostly a flat route. The walk is a scenic route around the perimeter of the Homewood campus, about 2.3 miles (3.7km). Starting and ending at the O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being, we will proceed along West University Parkway, San Martin Drive, and back up on North Charles Street. The path is mostly flat with sections on a slight incline. Should you need any mobility accommodations, please contact Carol Spencer at [email protected]. Please note, this is a walk, not a race. We will walk as planned in light rain/drizzle. We will pivot to the indoor track if we have moderate-to-heavy rain the day of the event.
        6. This event is more than a walk. Doors open at 9:30am for day-of registrations, quick breakfast (bagels courtesy of THB Bagelry; coffee, fruit, and snacks courtesy of Health Promotion & Well-Being), and activities. Activities include a sign-making station to take on the walk, Kindness Rock painting (to keep or leave along the walk route for others to find), a photo booth station, the memorial wall where you can visit and add pictures or messages, and information tables staffed by Hopkins and community mental health resources. Our ceremony starts at 10am. We will hear from our brave speaker and enjoy some uplifting performances before going on the walk. The event concludes with a raffle for well-being prizes and a brief mindful meditation to practice lovingkindness.
        7. The vibe is supportive and hopeful. If this is your first time attending the JHU Out of the Darkness Walk, you might not know what to expect. Suicide prevention and mental health awareness are serious topics. We validate all the emotions that come up. Know that this event emphasizes hope and support.
        8. There are ways you can get involved and volunteer. Interested in getting involved? There are still several ways to do so. We are still looking for: volunteers to help with outreach and promotion to increase registration/participation before the event; mental health-related organizations to table at the event; and volunteers to help with setting up the venue on the afternoon of April 12 before and for day-of support on April 13. If you’d like to get involved, email Carol Spencer [email protected] and/or Megan Tassinari [email protected].
        9. There are supportive mental health programs leading up to the walk (and year-round). If you are interested in learning skills to support your own mental health or to support your peers and your community, check out this list.
        10. Raising awareness and supporting mental health is not just for one day, but every day. There are resources to help!Learning about resources available to support anyone in emotional or psychological distress is a key part of community engagement for suicide prevention. Hopkins has many resource options available for its affiliates. Students and trainees can go to wellbeing.jhu.edu to learn about many of them. Here are some resources that we’d like to highlight here:
        11. Getting to the Out of the Darkness Walk is easy. We recommend that attendees coming from East Baltimore and Mount Vernon touse the free JH Shuttle Service. If you drive, metered parking is available around the Homewood campus on W. University Parkway, N. Charles Street, and St. Paul Street. On-campus parking is available at the North Visitor Lot, San Martin Garage, or the South Garage. Fees apply.
        12. There is more information to come. This is still a developing repository of information, so keep coming back to this blog post to get the latest updates about the OOTDW (Out of the Darkness Walk). We will be building on this post as we continue to organize this event. We look forward to seeing you Saturday, April 13.