URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A University of Illinois student group is shining a light on mental health with a walk that hopes to pave a path for future generations.

The organization Finding The Light in the Darkness has been gaining momentum on campus since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now organizers are hoping it continues growing; Sunday’s event helped do just that.

The movement is dedicated to raising awareness for those affected by suicide and mental struggles. They’re doing it with one simple gesture: showing up.

“There was no community. Students were not going to classes,” student organizer Sarah Evans said about college life during the pandemic. “There were no campus-wide events and people were not coming together. People did feel alone.”

Her organization, Finding the Light in the Darkness, has been working hard aiming to change that. The people who took part in Sunday’s walk weren’t just students taking a regular walk on campus; they were walking with a purpose.

“Being able to go on a 15-, 20-minute walk all together is something pretty cool to showcase that like we are a community wanting to spread that message of suicide prevention,” said Kate Lubbe, another student organizer.

Students put luminaries all over the University of Illinois Quad, right in the heart of the campus.

“It emphasizes how important this message is and it really shows me that people here at the University of Illinois and the Urbana-Champaign community really care about each other,” Evans said.

Evans wants to create a community, spreading the message that no one is alone.

“I felt that when I was here as a freshman,” Evans said. “So, it’s really amazing to see everybody come together. We really do care about this cause.”

No matter who you are, your presence is crucial.

“My freshman year self would have been happy to see people coming together for such an amazing cause,” Evans said. “And just have people together here on the Quad.

Organizers said the campus is determined to keep the conversation about mental health alive and thriving. This event isn’t just a walk; it’s a step towards finding the light in the darkness of mental health struggles.

Evans feels the U of I is proving that unity and awareness can be powerful tools in preventing suicide and supporting those in need. They’re inviting all organizations on campus to help share the message.​