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Firefighters help SFU tackle mental health

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Simon Fraser University
Public Affairs and Media Relations

Larry Thomas, Surrey Firefighters Association, 604.574.5785/604.230.8100,
Erica Branda, SFU Advancement, 604.291.3353/778.231.1274,
Terry Lavender, SFU Surrey, 778.782.7408,

July 28, 2006

The Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society (SFCS) is donating $100,000 to support a lectureship in mental health and addiction research at SFU Surrey. The gift will enable an internationally recognized expert to share research findings at Simon Fraser University and speak at community forums throughout the Fraser Valley.

As first responders to most of Surrey’s fire and medical emergencies, firefighters witness first-hand the link between social problems and mental health issues.

“Partnering with SFU will help in two ways,” explains Surrey Firefighters Association president Larry Thomas. “First, the community lectures will build awareness of mental health issues by helping to remove the stigma and get more people focused on solutions and treatment. Second, SFU Surrey will provide access to education close to home. This means that more kids will gain the confidence and direction that comes with advanced education.”

“Support from the firefighters means a lot to SFU,” says SFU president Michael Stevenson. “They are a pillar of the community with a strong interest in education and youth initiatives. Through their networks, they will be able to help us identify and reach out to the students who can most benefit from a university education.”

To acknowledge this gift and the important role the SFCS plays in supporting the community, the computer lab on the mezzanine level at SFU Surrey will be named the Surrey Firefighters Computer Lab. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held during the school’s opening festivities on Sept. 8 and 9.