The 11th annual Walk For Awareness presented by Tessa Group will be extended an extra kilometre, to reflect the rising suicide rate with nine lives in Australia lost each day to suicide on average.
As the first major event to kick off Queensland Mental Health Week (9-17 October 2021), participants can attend the physical walk on Sunday 10th October in Brisbane or register to “walk anywhere” and attend virtually from the comfort of their own neighbourhood.
Hosted by the Mental Awareness Foundation, the nine-kilometre walk invites Aussies to honour and pay respect to those who have taken their life and give those suffering an opportunity to openly discuss mental health challenges with friends, family and supportive strangers.
Last year’s event raised over $140,000 with essential funds being distributed to registered mental health charities including The Sunlight Centre, who received donations to support counselling that guides clients from crisis to recovery.
Brisbane brothers, Wesley and Tudor Vasile, founded the Mental Awareness Foundation and Walk for Awareness event after tragically losing two close friends to suicide, within a short three-month period in 2011.
On a mission to break the stigma around mental health, the brothers are encouraging Brisbanites and beyond to use the walk as an opportunity to initiate conversations and raise funds to tackle the suicide rate.
“The pandemic has heightened the risk factors associated with poor mental health, with lockdowns and border restrictions causing distancing from family and friends and impacting job stability,” said Wesley Vasile.
“There has never been a more crucial time to bring the community together safely and create an opportunity for personal connection and raw conversations around mental health – all while moving our bodies.
“It only takes a 30-minute moderate walk to kick start the flow of endorphins throughout the body and when done on a regular basis, it can start to counter depression and anxiety,” he said.
As a volunteer over the past six years, Carly Jarvis has been touched by the event’s power to positively change people’s lives.
“At last year’s event I had the privilege of meeting a stranger who shared how the event had saved his life. He was suicidal and came along looking for a reason to live and the reason he found was community. In that moment it validated the importance of the Mental Awareness Foundation,” said Ms Jarvis.
“For a lot of people, what goes on inside their head is not a choice – it’s an illness – and it is our duty as fellow humans to show kindness and compassion equally to all,” she said.
Participants are encouraged to bring friends, family, school mates, colleagues and their pawed pals along for the journey, however solo walkers will not take the trek alone – the whole community will take time and walk together.
With a variety of inspiring entertainment options on event day, including live music and stilt walkers, everyone from children in prams to grandparents will be amused all day long.
Music lovers and mental health warriors can also feature in a music video with Australian country music star and Mental Awareness Foundation ambassador, Jade Holland filming and recording her new release, Fight For It; a song inspired by her own struggle with mental health, which will also be released publicly on the day. Fight For It will also be the feature song of 2021 Queensland Mental Health Week.
The virtual event will be streamed live for participants registered outside of Queensland, to enjoy the event action from within their own community.
The event encourages movement, participation, friendship and fundraising, with donated funds to be distributed to nominated specialised charities selected by Mental Awareness Foundation such as Suicide Prevention Pathways, RizeUp and The Sunlight Centre.
Participants can lace their shoes and meet under the Story Bridge at Captain Burke Park, 117 Holman Street Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, on Sunday 10th October.
Mental Awareness Foundation would like to thank event sponsors Tessa Group, Heritage Bank, Fight for a Cause, Energy Pro, Urban X, RPQ Group, Components Only, 4Front, League of Entrepreneurship, Event Management Solutions Australia, Queensland Mental Health Commission and Queensland Mental Health Week for helping to bringing this year’s Walk For Awareness to the community.
Individual and team registrations are now open for the 2021 Walk for Awareness. To register participation at the physical or virtual event, or to find out more, visit www.walkforawareness.org.au