B.C. first responders thankful for help through Movember fundraising

Steve Farina says he’s never cried so much in his life as when he is able to share in the First Responder Resiliency Program each year for Movember. The retreat is held over the course of four days and invites first responders to gather at Loon Lake in Maple Ridge to discuss men’s health.

Farina leads the sessions and says it is a chance to address the trauma many experience on the job which he knows firsthand as the Vice President of the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Association.

“It kind of helps you work through some of that occupational trauma that you’re exposed to, some of the psychological injuries that we suffer, and it kind of normalizes that and gives everybody a chance to share their feelings around that and how it’s affected them and gives them some skills to move forward and go from surviving to thriving.”

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He calls it four days of emotional heavy lifting and uses an evidence-informed model developed through a collaboration between First Responder participants, the BC Professional Fire Fighters Association and Dr. Duncan Shields and Dr. David Kuhl from The Blueprint at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

A photo of three people involved in the efforts to help men's health

Dr. David Kuhl, Steve Farina, and Dr. Duncan Shields are involved in the BC Fire Fighter Resiliency Program. (Submitted)

“I went through it myself and I can tell you I’ve never cried so much and hugged so many dudes. It was a life-changing experience. And that’s the testimonials that we get from participants that go through that program. It is literally life-changing, live-saving. It’s amazing for a four-day program. It’s not 30 day in-treatment, it is literally four days that can change your life.”

Normally it would cost a first responder $3,000 to attend the session, but thanks to funds raised through Movember, the price is knocked down to $1,000.

Proceeds also go towards funding research to track the efficacy of the program long-term.

The November long fundraising campaign ends in a few days, but donations to men’s health can be made year-round at movember.com.

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