General News

Melancthon woman ‘Hiking for Hope’ in 800km trek

February 6, 2020   ·   0 Comments


Kinesiologist, nutritionist, and mental health ambassador Claire Knight of Melancthon, will make an 800 km solo hike across the Camino de Santiago trail this spring to raise funds and “hope” for mental health in Dufferin County. 

Commencing April 17, the challenge, which means leaving family, friends and work behind, is expected to take Claire five weeks to complete.

Ms. Knight started her non-profit campaign “Claire’s Hike 4 Hope’ in 2019, with 100 percent of donations going back to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Community Mental Health in Wellington-Dufferin. She says the campaign was her response to “the high suicide rates within Wellington-Dufferin County,” and “lack of support services for individuals and families.” 

Ms. Knight says walking the Camino de Santiago trail, starting out in France, and crossing the Pyranees mountains and Spain into Portugal, will test her both physically and mentally. 

“This is why I chose to take this journey,” she says, “to relate this 800 km solo challenge to the mental challenges so many of us have to overcome on a daily, or monthly basis. Each day, I will walk 30 km and share my physical and mental struggles on my blog and social media. I will also talk about one specific demographic of people, or a person, who had or did struggle with mental health challenges or mood disorders, every day.”

She told the Free Press she has been “personally motivated to create change in our community by raising awareness to the increased suicide rates… especially with the number of suicides that have happened over the past three years.” 

The more people she spoke with who lost loved ones and colleagues, the more she realized that this was something that required the community to come together, to raise awareness and put systems in place to promote life and talk about mental health.

Claire says she has always been interested in physical health as a kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist, but she also took as many psychology courses as possible during her training. She knows first hand the challenges of mental health, having grown up with a mother and a brother with mood disorders. To this day, her family struggles to ensure they both have the care and support they need now and in the future. 

Claire believes more support services for youth to seek help, to talk about their stresses and learn coping tools is needed. 

“I have personally seen my own children and their friends suffer with anxiety from as early as nine years old,” she says. “I believe that social media, and the amount of time children are in front of a screen, has a lot to do with this increased pressure on children today.”

As a holistic nutritionist, Claire believes that lifestyle, and especially diet, is a huge factor. 

“Drug use has also been linked to many incidents of mental illness, even with children and teens within our community. I have friends who have lost children to suicide as young at 13 years old, and my teenage children have lost friends to suicide within the past few years,” she said.

It is shocking to note, that, as Claire Knight points out, the suicide rate in Wellington-Dufferin County is almost “three times the provincial average.”

She says organizations such as CMHA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters are increasing the amount of support for people who are struggling, especially youth. However, Ms. Knight says funding is limited. In light of this, she is committed to helping by fundraising, and by voluntarily offering “Lunch and Learn” presentations to offices, factories and organizations across Wellington-Dufferin County. 

Ms. Knight is currently booking 30 to 60 minute talks – up until April 15 – and again when she returns in May following her pilgramage. The talks, which are by donation with attendance, cover topics such as stress, sleep, nutrition, activity, and healthy relationships, and how they are all directly linked to mental health, digestion and overall energy level. As well, she says people can learn some simple tools to live a healthier, happier life at She can be seen speaking at the Victoria Park Seniors’ Centre in Fergus on April 7 and June 22. 

“So many individuals and caregivers feel that they are alone,” says Claire Knight, “or feel that they don’t have support…yet it is out there, in many cases, within our community.” This is one of the reasons Ms. Knight is such an advocate for mental health conversations within our community – so that residents know the services that are in place, such as the “Here-24-7 Hotline” for addictions, mental health and crisis, that is available for anyone to call any time at 1-844-437-3246  or on line at

Claire Knight’s goal is to raise $20,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association and $20,000 for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Thus far, she has raised just over $3,500. To donate to Claire’s Hike for Hope and support mental health in Dufferin County visit:



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