Community Bus Tour aims to promote mental health awareness, reduce crime

Violent crime and mental health can have serious impacts on a community. That's why the Safety and Crime Reduction Commission is bringing awareness by hosting its first Community Bus Tour in partnership with JTA.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kennadi Larkins knows firsthand the struggles of mental health.

“When I was 9 years old I was on vacation with my grandparents and we get a call that my mother had passed away and ever since then my mental health has been up and down,” said Larkins.

Larkins is now making it her mission to help others battling with mental health. Her group, I am a Star Foundation, was one of the many mental health organizations offering resources at Saturday’s Community Bus Tour at the Oakland Church.

The event was spearheaded by the Safety and Crime Reduction Commission in partnership with JTA, with the goal to promote mental health awareness in the community.

“We want people to know that mental health is not a stigma. We’re here as the city of Jacksonville to let the citizens know that we have resources for them,” said City Council President Sam Newby.

By having the mental health resources available, leaders feel it could help reduce crime.

Larkins’ father is proud of how far his daughter has come and encourages parents to recognize red flags.

“I would recommend to any parent that communication is key. When you see your child isolating themselves, wrapped up more than normal into their telephones maybe it’s friends that you hadn’t normally seen before, I think those are telling signs and signs that your child is reaching out and that they want to connect,” said Dwayne Larkins.

Kennadi Larkins hopes other kids or adults struggling with mental health know they are not alone.

“I would want them to know that there is always somebody here for them, and I will always be here to listen and if you ever need somebody to talk to please, please, please reach out. Do not suffer alone,” Kennadi Larkins said. “Someone will always care for you.”

City leaders said they will be holding more Community Bus Tour for mental health events across the city. Those wanting to learn more about the resources available can find that information at 904-630-CITY or www.COJ.NET/SCRC.