Post Eagle Newspaper


Nov 29, 2023

45°F, few clouds
New Jersey

Time Now


Clifton: Stepping Up
Against Mental Illness

NEW JERSEY – On November 19, 2016, the community took their first steps to Ending the stigma attached to mental illness, at the Lace Up Against Stigma walk held at Barbour’s Pond in Garret Mountain, Woodland Park, NJ. The City of Clifton has declared that it is a Stigma Free Zone. In photo: Zumba workout on the lawn at Garret Mountain warming with Yudy Bechara, dance instructor and Clifton resident.

The event was sponsored by Power of One Coaching and Outreach Ministries in Clifton lead by Kim Castellano, Mission Director. Castellano also serves on the Board for the Mental Health Association in Passaic County and is an active member on the Clifton Stigma Free Zone Taskforce.

The walk was joined by the MHAPC, the organization has said this walk will become an annual walk to help raise awareness against mental illness stigma in Passaic County.

The walk opened with an energizing Zumba workout lead by Yudy Bechara from Clifton and encouraging words were spoken by David Matos, from Passaic, who walked across America.  Joanne Green, the Director of the MHAPC located in Clifton, spoke about mental illness and asked guests to sign the Stigma Free Pledge while encouraging everyone to get involved in their community.

pic-1forwebFree gifts and literature were given away to all attending the park to help raise awareness.  Uplifting music was heard throughout the park thanks to DJ Victor Colon of Clifton.  Walkers proudly wore their Green Clifton Stigma Free Zone t-shirts as they made their way around the pond.  Pets also attended the walk and wore green bandanas. All enjoyed the beautiful views of Garret Mountain while raising awareness.  Donations were accepted to help support the Clifton Stigma Free Taskforce.

In photo: Enjoying the beautiful weather at the first annual Mental Illness Walk, from left to right: Layal Helwani, Health Educator at Clifton Health Dept., Joanne Green, MHAPC, Executive Director, Limya Salmon, MHAPC volunteer, Kim Castellano, Mission Director, Power of One and Board member at MHAPC, Cindy Giardina, MHAPC, Board President.  

The event was well attended and those who attended said, they look forward to the next walk.

According to the NAMI “National Association of Mental Illness”, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, experiences mental illness in a given year.  Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.  The stigma associated with mental illness such as shame, fear of judgement from family, friends and coworkers, prevents those who are suffering from getting the help they need.

Take the Stigma Free Pledge: 1) Learn about mental illness 2) See the person not the illness 3) Take action on mental health issues.

Join the movement and end the Stigma that’s associated with mental illness. Contact Mental Health Association in Passaic County at 404 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ 07011, 973-478-4444 or email

For more information contact the Clifton Stigma Free Zone website at

Submitted by Kim Castellano