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Macon pop-up mental health gym event offers free therapy sessions, stress-free activities

The event starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with free 15-minute therapy sessions, yoga, poetry, music, and a walk through the park.

MACON, Ga. — No-cost therapy sessions and more stress-free activities are coming to parks near you.

Executive director of Macon Head Space Nancy Cleveland grew up in the foster care system before she was adopted by her maternal aunts at age 3.

Cleveland said, "My mother suffered from a mental illness and addiction my whole life, and I returned to Macon to get legal adult guardianship of her."

This experience inspired Cleveland to become a mental health advocate.

"I moved from being affected by the issues to advocating for the issues," said Cleveland.

This Saturday, she's helping kick off of Macon Mental Health Matters initiatives.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Filmore Thomas Park, Macon's first "mental health pop-up gym" will be available for the public.

Cleveland said, "The whole purpose to the mental health pop-up gyms is to get people to explore their inner outer space, so you wanna explore your inner space in an outdoor setting."

The pop-up gym starts with a Zen garden where people can drink tea and relax.

Then, the afternoon continues with free 15-minute therapy sessions, yoga, poetry, music, and a walk through the park.

Cleveland said, "I want people to heal together. The Zen garden, especially, is going to have comfy couches, inflatable sofas, chairs, socially-distant. It'll be a place where people can just sit and relax. Everyone's welcome, no matter what."

Wayne Woodard also plans on attending.

"Sometimes, you got to get out of your head," said Woodard. "Sometimes we're so much in our heads in our everyday life with work, school, kids."

It's also an opportunity that is working to dismantle the stigma of mental wellness by providing access to mental resources for Black, marginalized communities in Macon-Bibb County.

"It's about reaching the community that needs the help the most," said Cleveland.

The goal is to also provide techniques and resources that you may be able to use at home to decompress.

To reserve your spot for Saturday, you can register at Maconheadspace.com.

If you can't make it this Saturday, you're in luck.

This event actually kicks off several other pop-up gym events around the community for the rest of the year.