Take the plunge for mental health fundraiser

For the second year, Macedon Ranges is taking the lead in what is hoped will become a state-wide movement of rural communities in taking action against suicide.
SWIM 3046 is a Live4Life fundraiser that asks participants to swim laps in memory of those lost to suicide while raising funds and awareness for mental health.
The initiative is the brainchild of father and daughter team Sean and Kirsten McKinney who launched SWIM 2866 at Gisborne Aquatic Centre last year. That figure represented the number of Australians lost to suicide the previous year and has increased in 2018 to 3046.
The event acknowledges a tragic reality in which Australia’s annual suicide rate outstrips the national road toll and highlights the need to promote positive help-seeking behaviours when it comes to mental health.
Inspired by her own participation in the Live4Life program at schools across the Macedon Ranges, Kirsten said mental health was an important issue, particularly for rural communities, that needed attention.
“We need to do something about this,” Kirsten said.
“What I learnt in high school about mental health has stayed with me and has helped me when I started working and going to university.”
While the event takes place in the pool, Sean said “you don’t need to be a good swimmer to take part”.
“If you can only swim one lap – that helps go to the tally. Last year the target of 2866 was smashed by swimmers in the first couple of hours. In total 5880 laps were swum covering a distance of 147km.”
SWIM 2866 proved so popular that this year it will be run at both the Gisborne Aquatic Centre and Kyneton Toyota Sports and Aquatic Centre on Sunday November 10.
The event is supported by Jellis Craig, and director Tom May said it was a “fantastic initiative to help improve young people’s knowledge about mental health”.
“Having grown up in Macedon Ranges, I have seen the impact that suicide has on our community. When we were approached to support Live4Life, and also get behind this event, it was a unanimous ‘yes’ from all our staff.”
Live4Life’s CEO Bernard Galbally said Live4Life was founded on one core principle: “when rural communities come together to support young people, we can make a difference”.
The program operates in three rural Victorian communities and helps students, parents, teachers, junior sporting coaches and others to identify mental health warning signs and know where to find help.
People of all ages are invited to participate in this year’s SWIM 3046 either as swimmers, volunteers or by making a donation.
Swim entry costs $20 and includes a SWIM 3046 cap. All funds raised go directly to Youth Live4Life. Donations are tax deductible. To register visit: https://gtsc.goregister.com.au/swim3046

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