S.O.U.P. for the Soul Event 2018
by Wanda Armstead Smith, KFN Contributor
Like many people who have moved away from Kinston, NC after high school, Durham, NC resident Nakikia Walton wants to do her part in making a difference in the city she still loves. Walton explains, “I’ve always wanted to do something because every time I go home, I am overwhelmed with sadness. I am so saddened by how the city has severely changed from where it was when I used to live there. Coming down Vernon Ave, everything seems fine on that side of town, but when you go to the side I grew up on, there is no life. The life has not really been back in that city since Lincoln City went under water! And I think that has depressed a lot of people. Some people won’t admit it, but you can still see the sadness and depression there.”
Making a Difference…
Walton knows first-hand the importance of addressing these issues. In April 2011, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, followed by diagnoses with anxiety, panic attack disorder, ADD and PTSD. Although she was upset with the news, she was determined not to let it hold her back. Instead of being a victim, Walton decided to seek help and “keep it moving”, a positive mindset she adopted to help her stay focused on wellness. She hopes that through transparency of her own struggles, she can help others within her community. Walton has since dedicated herself to raising awareness, providing education, advocacy and supportive services to the community about multiple sclerosis, mental illness and other chronic diseases. “I talk about mental health. I want change the stigma behind it. When my kids become adults, they can say my mom was transparent and wasn’t afraid to get help. I don’t want them to ever be afraid because that’s a danger to their own mental health,” she says.
Instead of complaining about what should be done, Walton is taking action and giving back in her own way. For the second year, she will return home to Kinston on January 27th to host “S.O.U.P. for the Soul”, an annual event she created to empower the community through awareness, education, advocacy and supportive services that aid in promoting mental health awareness and chronic disease education. Walton explains the event’s theme, “Soup is good for your body. It is the catalyst for healing and nutrition. The ingredients to heal you from the inside out. That’s why when you’re not feeling well, people tell you to eat soup because it’s good for the soul. Well, I wanted this to be a community event where black men, women and children of all ages can come together and learn about taking care of yourself, mind, body and spirit because if those three things are not connected, you can’t be a total warrior.”
Getting to the Root…
Walton praises the great work that is already being done with the youth in Kinston. However, as a mental health professional herself, she also understands there’s more that needs to be done. “We’ve got to go a little bit deeper. We should continue to motivate the kids to be wonderful and aspiring adults, but we’ve got to go deeper with the parents. We’ve got to get to the root because in order to build a community back up, you’ve got to start with the root of the problem. Your kids are going through things because YOU are going through things. However, in order to help your kids, you have to help yourself. Don’t just get help for your children, get help for you as well! You can motivate a child, but if you continue to send that child back into the same environment, you’re just setting them up for failure. So, to get to the root, we have to get to the parent and that’s why I feel S.O.U.P. for the Soul is so important.”
To help provide participants with these resources, Walton has invited several guest speakers and partners from the community to participate, to include the Kinston Community Health Center. They will be providing free diabetes screenings, hypertension education and information about their new mental health services. Kenyari Fields, of Boys To Kings Mentoring Alliance, Inc., will share information about his youth program. Shelton Faircloth, who is a Veteran’s Patient Advocate, will have information for veterans who are seeking resources with mental health and other services.
This event is dedicated to the memory of Walton’s dad, Mr. Ronnie Earl Wilson, a long-time Kinston native and philanthropist. Wilson had a passion for giving back and helping those underserved as a result of social and economic barriers. He did things like caring for family members, taking neighbors to doctor’s appointments, volunteering with Meals on Wheels and serving in his church, just to name a few. Shortly after graduating from Kinston High School in 1973, Wilson began a career with DuPont in Kinston. In 1976, he joined the Army National Guard, where he served his country for 6 years. After being honorably discharged, he returned to DuPont and later retired after 29 years. Walton says she is following in her dad’s footsteps. “The ideas actually came to me at my father’s funeral of all places. My dad would come here to Durham just about every year when I had my MS walk. He would help me set up and help to raise money for it. All the while, I didn’t know how much work he was doing in his community because he never talked about it. While we were sitting there (at the funeral), so many people had so much to stay about all the great things that he had been doing. So, the idea came from that. I got to do something! In a few weeks after he was cremated, I decided this is what I’m going to do. Every year I’m going to come back and do what he would have done.”
On October 6, 2016, Walton’s dad passed away peacefully in his sleep due to failing health. However, she plans to keep his memory alive through S.O.U.P. for the Soul. In his honor, she will be recognizing others who are making a difference in Kinston. During the event, she will be presenting two residents with the Ronnie E. Wilson Humanitarian Award and the Keep It Moving Community Service Award.
DATE: Saturday, January 27, 2018
LOCATION: Holloway Center at 100 N Myrtle Ave., Kinston, NC 28501
*The event is FREE and the public is invited to attend. There will be live entertainment. Also, soup and sandwiches while supplies lasts.
How Can You Help? If you would like to volunteer, please contact Nakikia Walton via email @ MSKeepItMoving5@gmail.com To donate, Click Here!
About Nakikia Walton
Nakikia earned her Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Strayer University. Armed with a graduate education and a passion to utilized what she learned, she obtained positions with organizations, such as Price Water House Coopers, Mamsi Health Plans, United Healthcare, Humana and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina gaining extensive experience to help the community.
Currently, Nakikia is employed with the Department of Veteran Affairs as a Certified Advanced Medical Support Assistant helping Veterans coordinate health and wellness services at the Durham VA Medical Center and in the community. She recently received her certification as an Emotional Support Trainer/Facilitator through the Community Healing Network. She is the Founder and President of Keep It Moving 4U, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non-profit, with an organizational mission to empower the community through awareness, education, advocacy and supportive services that aid in the understanding of prevention or management of mental illness and chronic diseases.
Nakikia is a member of nonprofit organizations Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., The Greater Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National MS Society, The Community Healing Network and The National Patient Advocate Association. She continues to serve her community as a Healthcare and Insurance Advocate, helping individuals and families navigate through the maze of the healthcare system and dispelling stigmas about mental illness.