Bringing mental health to fore

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Snap Fitness Oamaru and the Waitaki Community Gardens want to bring the issue of mental health to the forefront of the community’s mind.

They have teamed up to organise a “Walk for Awareness” on October 6, which will also raise money for New Zealand charity I Am Hope and the Waitaki Community Gardens.

The number of suicides in New Zealand has reached its highest-ever level, 685 people having taken their own lives in the year to June 30.

The statistic spurred Snap Fitness Oamaru manager Andrew Allardice and Waitaki Community Gardens Trust operations manager Dan Hyzl to act.

The 8km Walk For Awareness starts at Lookout Point and finishes at the Waitaki Community Gardens.

“It’s just trying to create awareness and get people to know that it’s important to talk to each other,” Allardice said.

“When you do an event like this, people start talking about their own experiences, or someone else’s, to know that other people are going through the same stuff.”

Over the past two years, Snap Fitness Oamaru has raised more than $20,000 for mental health causes in New Zealand.

The relationship between exercise and mental health was important, Allardice said.

Mental health was also a key aspect of the Waitaki Community Gardens Trust’s vision, Hyzl said.

Volunteers at the gardens and gym-goers were rewarded with social interactions, physical exercise and education.

“There’s a lot of overlap about mental health through what both of us do in the community,” Hyzl said.

“It seemed like it was a good fit for us to work together on this event.”

People can register for the event at Snap Fitness Oamaru. Registration costs $20, and includes a free T-shirt for the first 100 people. Under 12s can walk for free.