ClimbUP for mental health with United Way

Climb, walk or run to help raise funds for counselling, outreach and peer support services for those struggling with mental health challenges

Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ territories | September 1, 2021 – September signals back to school, back to work and back to fitness, but for United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI), it also signals the start of ClimbUP – a 10-day exercise challenge taking place from September 23 to October 2, 2021.

Participants sign up as an individual or as part of a team and work to achieve 5,000 steps a day for 10 days with a collective goal of 50,000 steps in total. Teams are encouraged to hike, run or walk their way through the challenge. There is no registration fee though participants are encouraged to raise a minimum of $100 to take part in the challenge. Pledges will go towards United Way’s Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health, providing counselling, peer support and outreach services across Southern Vancouver Island.

“The aftermath of the pandemic has taken an unknown toll on mental health,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO of UWSVI. “As we move through B.C.’s reopening plan for personal gatherings, travel, and workplaces we are encouraging people to join our friendly fundraising challenge as a team-building experience and to contribute to the greater community while taking time for your own personal physical and mental well-being.”

According to the Canadian Psychological Association, there is no single reason why physical activity has mental health benefits, but is rather a combination of physiological, psychological, social, and neurological effects. Physical activity boosts the body’s production of endorphins which are ‘relaxing’ chemicals, while increasing feelings of self-esteem. In addition, exercising also boosts the production of ‘happy’ chemicals – dopamine and serotonin, and provides a social setting to connect with others.

“We all know exercise is great for us, but sometimes we have a hard time keeping ourselves accountable to our goals,” said Jason Ball, the owner of local Victoria gym BDHQ Body Dynamic Headquarters and a former ambassador for Lululemon. “Doing an exercise challenge like ClimbUP with friends or colleagues is a great way to keep yourself motivated or to jumpstart a routine.”

“Exercise has improved my mental health significantly,” added Ball. “Several years ago, I was overweight, depressed, and not happy with who I was. I decided to make a change for my mental health and well-being. I started by joining a running and walking group and slowly lost weight and became more confident. I still have my down days, but I do a little bit of exercise and I feel so much better. The stress just melts away.”

ClimbUP will mark the start of UWSVI’s fall fundraising campaign in workplaces. This is an opportunity for employees to take care of their own mental health by adding some extra steps into their day with colleagues, all while giving back to the community.

COVID-19 has increased the demand for mental health services by up to 50 per cent on Southern Vancouver Island, and the need will continue to grow as we live through this pandemic and its aftermath.

 To learn more about ClimbUP and how to lace up and participate, visit

Event generously supported by Peninsula Co-op, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, 100.3 The Q!, The Zone 91.3, Capital Daily and



United Way Southern Vancouver Island (formerly United Way Greater Victoria) is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. United, we accelerate change to improve the lives of our neighbours who need it most, making our local community stronger. We believe everyone in Greater Victoria, which includes 13 municipalities and 11 First Nations and the Southern Gulf Islands should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our priorities are focused on assisting isolated seniors; families in need; diversity, equity and inclusion; and individuals struggling with mental health challenges and/or addictions. Last fiscal year, United Way raised $6.2 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and 200 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. Through our community partnerships, over 125,000 people on Southern Vancouver Island received support. Show your local love today by making a gift to United Way at

Media Contacts:

Heather Skydt
United Way Southern Vancouver Island
Director Marketing and Communications
Mobile: 250-686-3606
Office: 250-984-2269