A STRONG contingent of Fremantle riders will take part in a 700km fund-raising cycle from Albany to Perth next month to help West Australians struggling with their mental health.
A total of 160 riders will spend four and half days in the saddle tackling coastal, inland and Wheatbelt routes during the Hawaiian Ride for Youth, which has been held annually since 2003.
All cash raised goes to Youth Focus, a not-for-profit that delivers vital mental health services to young folk in WA.
Flying the flag for Fremantle will be a bunch of riders including Drew Verboon, who’s father was one of the original cyclists in the epic charity ride.
His dad battled mental health issues, so Drew’s keen to help others through tough times.
For North Fremantle’s Henry Simpson, a first-time rider, it will be a personal affair as a close friend commited suicide in recent years and he has two other mates who lost their dads to suicide.
Some Melville riders have been directly affected by mental health issues: Attadale’s Ben Elsbury, 22, has experienced anxiety and depression so he understands the the debilitating effects of mental illness. He’s taken on the ride to raise awareness of this issue.
Willagee’s Annabel Davy suffered years of nasty bullying, so she is doing the ride to prove to herself and others that anything is possible and you can come out the other side of your mental health battles.
Other riders like Leeming’s Tania Easton have worked in the mental health sector. Easton was involved with At Risk Youth in regional WA, identifying a lack of resources for country kids and helping to appoint a youth counsellor to the area.
Hawaiian Ride for Youth chair Christina Matthews says the event has become a platform for highlighting and creating conversations around the mental health challenges faced by young people.
“At its core, the ride is about improving the lives of young Western Australians and supporting young people by providing them with the services and tools they require to navigate their mental health journey,” Ms Matthews says.
“Every rider shares a common passion, and that’s to ensure we are doing everything we can to help prevent young people dying by suicide. Seeing so many young people get on board for 2023 is incredibly significant when you think about what we are all here to do.”
During the past 21 years the Ride has raised more than $30 million for youth mental health services. Tragically, suicide remains the leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 and 24 in Australia.
En route the riders will stop at 15 high schools in an effort reduce mental health stigma and educate young people on the importance of mental health.
Each peloton will cover 700km to Perth, stopping at regional towns including Albany, Walpole, Pemberton, Busselton, Frankland River, Bridgetown, Collie, Gnowangerup, Katanning, Narrogin and Mandurah.
The Hawaiian Ride for Youth is on March 21-25. To donate or for more information visit rideforyouth.com.au.