There are many incredible elements to this iconic community event that keeps drawing me back. The very special people participating each year, the involvement with my community, being an example to my son, the physical challenge, but primarily the opportunity to be involved with Youth Focus.
Youth Focus is a unique independent for-purpose organisation that supports vulnerable young people in Western Australia by offering a range of mental health services. It operates with a team of highly trained and skilled psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists to provide a range of early intervention and prevention services free of charge, aimed at supporting young people and their families to overcome the issues associated with suicide, depression, anxiety and self-harm.
My awareness of the great need for this support service in our community has certainly grown over the years of my participation in this event. Chris Harris, Youth Focus GM Community Engagement, encapsulated it all when he delivered the Hawaiian Ride for Youth 2019 launch speech in October, 2018. An excerpt....
"Let’s start with some sobering statistics. They are hard to hear, yet they are important as they drive the response to ‘why do we do this ride?’. The most recent ABS stats (2017) reveal an increase of 9% of West Australians who believed taking their own life was the only solution to their struggles. In 2017 409 of our West Australian Community took their lives. This is equivalent to, two Qantas 737-800 flights to Melbourne crashing, killing all passengers and crew.
Suicide remains the leading cause of preventable death for West Australian youth. Preventable death. Not cancer, not diabetes, not car accidents.
However, there is cause for optimism. The rate of West Australian young people aged 12 to 25 years who died by suicide in 2017 reduced by 6% in from 54 to 51 young people. The 2018 ombudsmen report shows a similar pattern with a 30% reduction in 2017 of West Australian children and adolescents aged 5 – 17 taking their own life (from 19 in 2016 to 12 in 2017).
Let us not forget that each of these 51 represents a life, a young person that has a family, a school, a community. All wounded by the shrapnel that is suicide. Any young person in our community taking their own life is unacceptable.
2019 marks the 17th year of this award-winning event. In those years, 485 riders have completed the more than 700km ride to Perth, raising a staggering $19.7million.
As a community engagement initiative, The Hawaiian Ride for Youth has grown from one peloton to four. In 2019 as a collective the 170 cyclists and 60 support crew will engage with 26 regional schools, supporting more than 3,500 students.
How do I explain the Hawaiian Ride for Youth?
The Hawaiian Ride for Youth is about family stories, about a commitment to one another, a commitment to others. Stories of the loved ones you are riding in memory of or carrying their legacy forward.
The story of a young person leaving a school presentation in tears Not because of her own struggle, not because of the memory of her parent who took their life some years ago, because through joyful tears, she explains “finally some people, wearing lycra of all things, had the guts to talk to us kids about suicide”.
The ride for youth is a journey, starting with the physical challenges over the coming months of training, transitioning into the psychological challenges as ride week approaches – revisiting the question of why you chose to do this..."
Thank you for taking the time to read my profile, and your support of my efforts for Youth Focus is very much appreciated,
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