Letnick: World Peace starts locally. Join walk March 28

I truly believe that peacefulness contributes much to our overall happiness and good mental health

When I decided to hold a community walk at the end of this month, no one batted an eye when I told them it was to promote good health-most people are aware of my interest in health matters, and what better way to celebrate health than with physical activity?

But when I added that the event was also intended to promote world peace, with a chance to explore our diverse country courtesy of Air Canada, I got a few quizzical looks. What do the two concepts have to do with one another? And why highlight such a global issue at a local level?

I truly believe that peacefulness contributes much to our overall happiness and good mental health-and when we feel good, we naturally want to share it with others. Whether you find peace in your faith or spiritual practices, in your relationships, in nature, or in a variety of other spaces or activities-that sense of calm and ‘letting go’ of the small stuff provides a powerful physical and mental release. Letting go of that stress likely improves your mood and the way you relate to others.

Some of those stresses might pertain to the world we find ourselves in today. Every day, we hear news stories of conflicts both abroad and in our own backyard. From ISIS to Boko Haram, to the attack on our own national Parliament and the foiled plot at the B.C. Legislature-it’s easy to feel as if our world has become unsafe and unwelcoming. But that’s what makes it even more important for us, as a community, to show the rest of the world our ability to live in harmony despite our differences.

B.C. certainly serves as a good example. As the most ethnically diverse province in Canada, we welcome nearly 40,000 new immigrants each year. That’s why our government has spent an average of $1.7 million in each of the past three years to fund programs that promote multiculturalism, address racism and build inclusive communities. We invest in the many local groups that help immigrants find work, make friends, and become positive contributors to their new neighbourhoods.

If newcomers experience incidents of racism, there are initiatives that can help-like the Safe Harbour program, which spans nearly 800 certified locations across 36 municipalities and districts including Kelowna. The Safe Harbour logo, on a business or organization’s window, identifies it as a sanctuary for people who experience discrimination or harassment and briefly need a safe place to go. It announces to the community that these smart, forward-looking businesses proudly understand, welcome and embrace the richness of diverse communities.

Let’s also show our spirit of inclusiveness at my Community Spring Climb for Health and World Peace, on Saturday, March 28 at Knox Mountain. A shorter route and a longer, more challenging one can be conquered as we encourage healthy living and celebrate our diverse, welcoming community.

In doing so, you’ll also have fun-as well as enter a draw for two free tickets anywhere Air Canada flies in Canada. For more details and to register for this free event, please visit my website www.normletnickmla.bc.ca. I look forward to seeing you.