Team Genesis runs to support adults with mental illness

Falmouth Road Race nets $30,000 for wellness program

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

August 17, 2012
Members of Team Genesis at the Falmouth Road Race included (from left) Chelsea Graves of Paxton and UMMS runners Kevin Bradley, Diane George and Amy Harrington. Not pictured from UMMS are Kerry Conant and James Yon.

Runners from the Department of Psychiatry laced up their sneakers and pounded the pavement to support adults in recovery from mental illness. Running as part of Team Genesis at the Falmouth 10K Road Race on August 12 were Amy Harrington, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry; second-year resident Kerry Conant, MD; fourth-year resident James Yon, MD; and Diane George, the  department’s office manager. Along with other team members, they raised nearly $30,000 for wellness initiatives at the Genesis Club of Worcester.

Genesis Club is an exemplar of the international clubhouse model, which gives hope and a new lease on life to adults in recovery from mental illness. Since 1988, the club has served thousands of members with a comprehensive web of services, including vocational training, employment opportunities, housing support, educational assistance and social programs.

Assembling a team of runners is a fitting way for Genesis Club to rally support for its Wellness Program, which was established in 2008, prompted by findings from the Massachusetts Mortality Report that persons with mental illness in the 25 to 45 age group have a cardiac death rate seven times higher than those without mental illness. Genesis Club Executive Director Kevin Bradley, also a UMMS affiliate in psychiatry and Falmouth racer, describes the wellness program as “a very new initiative in the Clubhouse world.” The program is intended to help members pay increased attention to their health, become more aware of their own bodies and move toward improved general wellness. Participants engage in structured exercise and learn how to prepare balanced, healthy meals. In addition to a local YMCA, the Fitness Center at UMass Medical School is a workout destination for Genesis members.

“Genesis Club is a model for re-entering society, for getting up every day, managing a job and finances, interacting with others and gaining confidence in one’s ability to succeed at life,” said Dr. Conant. “I was struck by the compassion and kindness members find there.”

"I work day in and day out with people whose courage and perseverance in the face of the many challenges of mental illness inspire me,” said Dr. Yon. “Mental illness has touched my own life in people I love. My continued hope is that they dream big, find strength and live out loud."

“Now we have the chance to run in the renowned Falmouth Road Race while raising money for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts,” said Dr. Harrington, who began running with her sister two years ago. “The Genesis Club of Worcester is a place where people with mental illness can come together.”

This year marked George’s third run for Genesis Club. "Over the past couple of years doing this race, I can’t tell you how many people stopped me along the course to give me a thumbs up,” she said. “The club has made an amazing impact."


Related links on UMassMedNow:

Transitional employment improves lives of adults with mental illness

UMMS community members run for Team Genesis

Using art to triumph over mental illness