Beacon of Light Park, located near the Yarmouth hospital and overlooking the harbour, will officially open on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m.
The park is part of a mental health initiative made possible through the generosity of Yarmouth Hospital Foundation donors. The timing of the opening coincides with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
The centre point of the park is a gazebo built in memory of Erika Elkington, who was born at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital on Sept. 6, 1985.
The park’s gazebo was built by the carpentry class of Nova Scotia Community College, Burridge Campus.
In addition to the gazebo, two concrete benches are located on site.
Additional elements may be added to the park in the future.
The intention is to have a quiet spot in nature that can be enjoyed by staff and visitors associated with the Yarmouth health-care complex and the community at large.
"Beacon of Light Park is a mental health initiative aimed at providing a quiet spot in nature to enjoy water, woods and wildlife along the shores of historic Yarmouth Harbor," reads a description about the park.
Erika Elkington’s parents, Bill and Sabrina Elkington, will be travelling from Edmonton for the opening and an unveiling of a plaque in memory of their daughter.
“The generosity of the Elkingtons and our community reminds us that we are stronger together. The Beacon of Light Park is a testament to that strength,” said Paulette Sweeney-Goodwin, managing director of the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation.
The park is located on foundation land. The property was acquired several years ago for a dollar from the former South West Nova District Health Authority.
"The park was developed through the generosity of 20 Yarmouth Hospital Foundation donors," reads information from the foundation. "Lead donors included J.V. Driver Company and the Richard Shapiro Estate."
The park is about a five-minute walk towards the harbour from the lobby of the Yarmouth hospital.
In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place in the lobby of the hospital.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony. People are told to wear comfortable shoes. Parking will be free. There will also be music and light refreshments.
People can also learn more about Erika Elkington by visiting the Erika Legacy Foundation website.
This foundation was created by Erika’s family and friends in 2016.
"It will stand as a legacy to the person Erika was," reads the website's description about the foundation. "We hope by engaging people and communities, we can build an endowment that remains in perpetuity. The Erika Legacy Foundation will strive always to build safer and inspired communities for years to come. We will partner with, and award grants to, other charitable causes who we feel capture the spirit of what Erika believed in and what our foundation stands for."
The foundation hopes to prevent suicide and suicidal behaviour by:
• Increasing awareness of suicide and the impact it has on our societies.
• Supporting research and study the social, personal and economic conditions that lead to suicide using those findings to implement effective approaches to suicide prevention.
• Inspiring hope, resiliency and a reason for living.
Erika Elkington, 29, passed away on August 6, 2015 and was one month away from celebrating her 30th birthday, which would have been Sept. 6.
In her life she took on many challenges, whether they were physical or educational, and she conquered them all. Her passions were travel, health, languages and constant learning to better ones self. She spoke multiple languages and had seen much of the world by the age of 26. By 29, she had completed a Bachelor of Education, a Certified Human Resources Professional designation, graduated from the Sauder School of Business in family business and earned an MBA.
"Erika was not what most people would associate with suicide," says the foundation website. "In her final hours she wrote: 'I had an incredible life, one I treasured, one I don’t feel I earned. I was blessed. I was loved. And this is on me. I was not strong enough.'"
AGENDA FOR THE SEPT. 14 OPENING OF THE PARK
- Opening Remarks
- Park Opening message from Yarmouth Hospital Foundation Vice Chair, Neil LeBlanc
- Introduction of Bill and Sabrina Elkington
- Unveiling of Erika’s plaque
- Music: Singer/Acoustic Guitar- Michael Wheatley
- Presentation to the Elkingtons’ (YHF Vice Chair)
- Guest Soloist: Elizabeth Wright, singer/song-writer & mental wellness advocate
- Group photo (“Live to Inspire”)
- Closing Remarks