Highlight of the Year : 2016

A few years ago I was at a New Year’s Eve party and we went around the room telling each other about our biggest highlight from the past 12 months. At the time I said that my highlight was my week making a short film with the FRAMED program by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. Since I’ve now taken part in that workshop three years in a row it’s still pretty high on my list, but I’m going with something different this year…

In June I had the pleasure of meeting John Rathwell and Tracy Guénard (and of course their dog Rain) on the first leg of their journey all across North America.

After John and Tracy each lost family members to suicide they both wondered how they could use their talents to raise awareness for mental illness and also help inspire and encourage people to fight it with outdoor activity and exercise.

Searching for Sero is a project from the writer and photographer duo where they capture and share stories of people who use outdoor activity and adventure to increase their happiness well-being. ‘Sero’ is short for serotonin, the neurochemical believed to be responsible for the feelings of happiness. Research reveals that serotonin is released during exercise and time spent outdoors. John and Tracy initially struggled with how they would photograph “suicide prevention,” but upon learning this decided that photographing people’s unique versions of physical therapy would be a much better idea.

After their two-year mission (give or take, considering the occasional hiccup) they plan to publish a photo book with all of their adventures, the proceeds of which will go to groups fighting mental illness.

I forget how I originally found them, but their video (below) captured me. I made contact and asked them to keep me in mind when they were in western Newfoundland. They came back and instead asked me to keep them in mind (I guess they were getting a lot of similar requests), so I followed them on social media and kept track of their progress.

 A few months later I made contact again after I watched the SFS van pull into town via Snapchat. We met up, they made me ‘van food,’ and we spent the next several days sitting around campfires, hiking, exploring, photographing, talking, and sero searching. It was really a lot of fun, as good time spent with good people often is, but my experiences also ignited my own desires to get outside more often.

Last summer I started biking, running, and just generally being more active, which has helped me with my own mental and physical health problems. Even now, whenever I’m feeling ‘blah’ or blue, I think back to what John and Tracy are trying to accomplish and do something physical.

In essence, my Highlight of the Year for 2016 wasn’t an isolated experience, it came with a shift in perspective that will hopefully keep me active into 2017 as well.

I encourage you to learn more about their amazing initiative, think of the outdoors as being therapeutic, and make an effort to start searching for sero.

Hit me up if you’d like to go for a walk 🙂


Some other links from John and Tracy’s time in and around Corner Brook:

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