Grandma's House Healing Journey Youth Walk

Attendees pick out signs to carry during the My Grandma's House The Healing Journey Youth Walk from Fred Meyers West to Pioneer Park Friday afternoon June 15, 2018. Dozens of people joined the walk aimed at raising awareness and ending the cycle of child abuse and neglect.

On Friday, Fairbanks will be the epicenter for a child abuse awareness walk and fundraiser that aims to travel across the state as part of a broader healing journey.

Cynthia Erickson, of Tanana, founded the nonprofit organization My Grandma’s House to discuss issues of child abuse and neglect, thereby addressing suicide rates. For Erickson, the journey started back in 2013, when a string of suicides affected her community.

“So I decided to do this healing journey,” she said. “We had gone through so much with the suicide: depression, anxiety, just a lot of social issues.”

The walk begins at 5 p.m. Friday and starts at Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall, moves to REI, and then comes back. There will be food, a silent auction and a raffle.

As part of the walk, people ages 9 through 20 will be able to come forward and share their experiences. Erickson said, when they held a similar walk last year, she would encourage the walkers to just write something down to talk about and not care what people think.

“And so they all wrote their stories and as we went down the Yukon, it was really tough at first but easier and easier for them to speak and share their stories,” she said.

The journey is being co-hosted by Tanana Chiefs Conference, which will have representatives available throughout the fundraiser. There will be professionals available to talk with participants about prevention, treatment and other mental health resources.

After the walk in Fairbanks, Erickson and her group will depart to Tok, where the journey will continue. The walk comes to Nenana on June 12, where it will take place at 4 p.m. at the Visitor’s Center.

For more information, to register or make a donation, visit www.mygrandmashouseak.org.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7572.