By Jill Fox
Yoga4B’s 6th Annual Yogathon for mental health awareness took place on April 6 at Pine Trails Amphitheater raising money for several suicide prevention organizations.
Founded by Pamela Leal after she lost her daughter, Bailey, to suicide in 2013 when she was a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Leal, uses her daughter’s story, and her 17 years experience teaching yoga to spread awareness and encourage positive healing practices. Through Yoga4B’s work teaching and training, the nonprofit organization helps promote knowledge of the therapeutic benefits yoga has to offer.
Leal said she wants to keep raising awareness as well as start the dialogue around suicide – it fuels the fire for her after all that’s happened in the Parkland community.
“That one impulsive choice has a ripple effect that will last a multitude of years,” said Leal. “And that’s the way it is for each of the families who are still grieving for the loss of the 17 and the suicides after.”
The Yoga4B event, attended by about 100 men and women, raised over $3,000 for suicide awareness organizations she supports, such as Waves of Hope, Yoga4MSD and Branches of Bravery.
“I have a large community that supports me, and I want to give back to them,” said Leal, who teaches classes in Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton and Parkland, including “Yoga in the Park” on Saturdays at Pine Trails Park.
Event speakers included Leal, various doctors, and her oldest daughter, Marissa. Each one focused on the same theme of bringing the mind to stillness.
“It just kind of happened that we all had the same message with a different approach,” she said.
Leal is trying to bring the awareness of mindfulness – that being able to sit still is a true gift, for both children and adults.
Besides Bailey, Leal has three other daughters: Madison, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and 26-year-old twins Paige and Marissa.
Her goal is to talk about, and try to provide as many resources to as many people as she can.
“We were a typical Parkland family, if it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”
Yoga4B will be holding another event on September 28, during National Suicide Awareness month at The Wyndham Boca Raton. For more information or to donate go to at Yoga4B.com
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.