Banding together . . . Preparing to take part in Walk the Talk for Youth Week are Waitaki District Youth Council members (from left) Naua Teu, Mady Rawson, Ethan Reille and Sophie McMillan-Sinclair. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

The Waitaki District Youth Council is stepping up to make a difference for young people struggling with their mental health.

This month, youth councillors are taking part in the Walk The Talk fundraiser, to make sure nobody ever has to walk alone.

The national fundraiser challenges individuals, and teams, to exercise for 31 minutes every day in May, to raise money for youth mental health and Youthline. Young people reaching out to Youthline for support spend an average of 31 minutes chatting with one of the organisation’s counsellors.

The youth councillors have created their own fundraising accounts, and some are involved in school teams. When the Oamaru Mail went to print this week, the Waitaki Girls’ High School team was the second-best fundraiser in the country, raising $2463, behind Youthline’s team.

For Waitaki District Youth Council deputy chairwoman Mady Rawson the cause was personal.

‘‘I was very thankful for everyone who put aside support for me, so me putting aside 31 minutes for everyone else isnothing compared to how much that 31 minutes isworth,’’ the 17-year-old said.

‘‘It means so much. Even a few words can help a youth life and future.’’

Chairman Ethan Reille said it was important for young people to give back to organisations that supported them.

National youth week starts tomorrow and the Waitaki youth councillors have created a week-long event, based on the youth week theme — ‘‘our voices matter and we deserve to be heard’’.

The youth council is working with Sport Waitaki, Youthtown, the North Otago Youth Centre and Waitaki District Libraries. Each day, starting Monday, one of the organisations will set a challenge for the young people via social media.

Ethan also hoped to have a youth planting day with North Otago Sustainable Land Management next weekend.