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Over 140 cyclists gear up for mental health challenge

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More than 140 cyclists are gearing up to put mental health first as training commences for the 2021 Hawaiian Ride for Youth.

The annual event will see some of the state’s most prominent businessmen and women tackle the staggering 700km ride across regional Western Australia from March 23 to 27 2021, in an effort to raise critical awareness and funds for Youth Focus to support youth at risk of suicide and those living with mental health challenges.

Over 25 teams will cycle three routes: the Coastal, Inland and Wheatbelt routes from Albany to Perth covering over 2,000km in just 4.5 days.

Now in its 19th year, the three-time national award-winning Hawaiian Ride for Youth has raised more than $24 million since its inception in 2003 to help Youth Focus continue to provide free mental health services to thousands of young people each year.

Recently inaugurated Hawaiian Ride for Youth Chair, passionate mental health advocate, and fourth-time rider Christina Matthews said the event continues to create conversations around the social issues and mental health challenges faced by young people everywhere.

“Not only does the Ride go a long way in raising funds to support young Western Australians, but it also acts as a fundamental platform to allow for incredibly important conversations around mental health and the ongoing challenges our youth are facing today.

“As riders, we’re all very cognisant of the role we’re playing in improving the lives of young people around the state. We all share a common passion, and that is to ensure we are doing everything we can to decrease the number of young people being lost to suicide each week.”

Throughout the journey, riders will visit 20 regional high schools and engage with more than 2,500 students to share personal stories and communicate the importance of positive mental health.

“For many riders, the school visits are arguably one of the most important elements of the Ride with each visit giving the riders a chance to spread awareness and share stories of their own struggles, but also their personal triumphs,” Ms Matthews said.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the Hawaiian Ride for Youth was a key event in Youth Focus’s fundraising calendar that contributed crucial funds to youth mental health services in WA.

“More and more young people need our help,” Mr Papakotsias said. “Last financial year, we saw a 34 per cent rise in demand for our services and we expect an increased number of referrals on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this represents a growing number of young people living with mental health challenges, we also see this as a positive that more young people and their families are reaching out for help.

Funds raised through the Hawaiian Ride for Youth are vital to our operations and ensure we can support thousands of young people in their time of need.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the nation, with Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing 49 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2019. For every suicide, another 25 people attempt to take their own lives.

Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 6,090 young people and school and community education to another 5,773 people.

In 2020, the Hawaiian Ride for Youth was cancelled amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, just as 163 cyclists and support crew were set to embark on their journey across regional Western Australia, however, despite the cancellation, an incredible amount of $1.9 million was raised exceeding the 2020 fundraising target of $1.8 million.

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 on the Coastal, Inland and Wheatbelt routes.

Each rider must commit to raise at least $5,000 to participate in the Ride.

To donate or for more information visit www.rideforyouth.com.au

Ends

Youth Focus is a leading provider of youth mental health services in Western Australia. The not-for-profit offers free, unlimited counselling, mental health education and related services to young people aged from 12 to 25 to help them overcome issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

For further information, interview and images please contact:
MEDIA CONTACT
Hayley Sarre | Detail Marketing Communications | 0449 202 945 | hayley@detail.com.au
YOUTH FOCUS CONTACT
Gemma Scheibling | Youth Focus | 0434 055 877 | gemma.scheibling@youthfocus.com.au

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