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WSD caretaker running for mental health

April 27, 2022 News Story
Junel Malapad

A Sisler High School caretaker is literally running to retirement.

Junel Malapad has worked with WSD for 29 years, at dozens of schools; in that time, running has become an important part of his life, for both physical and mental health.

“I started running because of a health concern and wanting to better my body and life. I became more positive with friends and family. It puts me in a good frame of mind,” Malapad said. “When I run, I have gratitude, and I am thankful for being able to move forward. When I get off work, I can do something for myself.”

Malapad has turned his love of running into a fundraising engine for a wide variety of charities and humanitarian causes over the years. As he closes in on his retirement from WSD in June, he has planned another major running fundraiser.

From May 1 to 7, he is running across Manitoba to support local mental health organizations.

Malapad’s journey will start on May 1 at the Ontario border and will finish at the Saskatchewan border, with a total distance of 490 kilometres covered.

This isn’t Malapad’s first run to span more than a day. Previously, he ran for over 48 hours for Siloam Mission to support their efforts in helping people experiencing homelessness. On Malapad’s 50th birthday, he celebrated by running 50 kilometres 50 times in 2020.

Malapad described the impact of mental health on his own life as a child of immigrant parents. He had family members who suffered for many years from various mental health disorders, and they were unaware of the services available.

“I realized how important mental health is, people aren’t alone and we can help each other out.”

The organizations that Malapad is supporting through his run include: Winnipeg Aboriginal Sports Education Centre, Turning Page Program, Peer Connections MB, Home for Heroes, Mood Disorders Association, Returning to Spirit, YMCA mental health program, the KLINIC and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

“I want to highlight organizations doing great things supporting mental health, helping people thrive and positively impacting mental health. If people have family or friends that need resources, they can go to any of these organizations,” he said. 

Malapad encouraged people to share their mental health stories, support each other and donate.

“We are not alone and look out for each other. Positive mental health is what we can do to thrive these days.”

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