Palliser teacher to walk A Journey of Healing

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Julie Macklin’s 100-km trek in support of Southern Alberta Children Advocacy Center

Artist and teacher Julie Macklin will walk 100 kilometres from Vulcan to Lethbridge in two days to raise awareness and money for the new Southern Alberta Children Advocacy Center.

Macklin, a teacher in Palliser Regional Schools, will begin “A Journey of Healing” at County Central High School in Vulcan at 8 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, spend the night in Barons, then continue her walk to Lethbridge, ending at Palliser Regional Schools’ Central Office around 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25.

She describes herself as a “walking artist.” You won’t see her wearing headphones and marching to her favourite tunes. Instead, she takes in her surroundings with all five senses. She plans to create a piece of art from her walk to donate to the new advocacy center which will provide an integrated range of services to children and youth who have experienced sexual abuse.

“I find the act of walking and that solitude very healing,” she says. “It helps me filter through my thoughts.”

The journey will travel Highway 23 and Highway 3, a route she’s driven many times as she makes her way from one Palliser Hutterite Colony school to another, encouraging her students to express themselves through art.

“I’ve been on that highway for many years,” says Macklin, a six-year teacher in Palliser. “I’m so grateful that we live in such a beautiful place.”

Despite being familiar with the highway, she expects to experience it in new ways because she’ll be walking, not driving.

Even at her brisk pace — she expects to complete the 100 km in about 16 hours over two days — walking slows her mind, giving ideas, memories and feelings a chance to bubble to the surface.

“I’m going to be out there alone, but I won’t be alone,” she says, explaining the walk is an opportunity to reflect on all that she’s grateful for and the many people in her life.

She says that concept of being alone, but not alone, is something she hopes young victims of sexual abuse will gain through the services of the advocacy center. The new center, still in planning stages, is modelled on the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, where a range of human services, from counsellors, school staff and law enforcement, come together to offer victims and families a one-stop shop for help and support. A launch event was held in Lethbridge Sept. 13, with Kennedy as the guest speaker.

Donations to the Southern Alberta Children Advocacy Center can be made on your mobile phone by texting WALK to 80100 to donate $5. The text to donate option is handled through Mobile Giving Foundation, in partnership with Lethbridge Family Services.