My Civic2Surf

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For a lot of people, running 5 kilometres is a part of their daily fitness routine.

For me, it’s the equivalent of cycling up Black Mountain on a unicycle – pretty impossible. Despite this, after stumbling back from a 3.2km ‘trial run’ (with about 17 walking breaks), I decided to sign up for the Civic2Surf run.

The run, taking place on the 2nd and 3rd of September, goes from Canberra to Sydney in a relay-type style. 60 students participate to cover the 340kms within 24 hours, with the aim of raising money and awareness for mental health.

The Civic-2-Surf run originated in 2011, when six students from Johns, including Batyr’s founder, spent a week running from Canberra to Sydney in order to raise awareness, and money, for mental health. Since 2011, the event has grown in strength and numbers, with this year’s goal at $20,000. The money raised goes to Batyr, a mental health organisation that believes in story telling as a way of ‘giving a voice to the elephant in the room’.

Batyr was created with the aim to ‘deliver innovative peer-to-peer programs that engage, educate and empower young people.’ So far, Batyr has reached over 40,500 young people, showing those who are struggling that they are not alone.

As a speaker with Batyr, I have experienced the profound positivity the organisation has had on many youth’s lives, including my own. After going through a particularly rough time, Batyr helped me to come to terms with what I had gone through, and turn it into a positive experience that I was able to learn from and share with others. The stories of hardship, with happy endings, inspire hope. Furthermore, it shows those struggling a way forward, and educates students about ways to reach out. Most importantly, the stories show that it is okay not to be okay, smashing the stigma that so heavily surrounds mental health.

These students often make a lasting impact, as Harriet, the president of Civic-2-Surf, stated when she explained her reasoning behind all the time and effort she has put into hosting the run. Harriet was attracted to the event last year by the running aspect of it, but was moved by a Batyr speaker at the launch event. She raised the important point that mental health impacts everyone, directly or indirectly, and thus, it should be a responsibility for everyone to get involved.

Too often students feel like mental health is a dark cloud that is too heavy for them to influence, but every small stand of support helps to reassure those who want to reach out, or ask for help.

Throughout my own struggles, there were days when getting through seemed utterly impossible. Everyday, those struggling with mental illness have to face the impossible, and beat it, often silently and without help. Thankfully, for me, the impossibilities that I face have changed from getting through a day, to getting through a 5-kilometre run. I wouldn’t be out of those dark times without the support of those around me – whether it be getting out of bed, or having a difficult chat with a friend, I am running for those who have to face the impossible on a daily basis, and to remind myself that no matter what, it’s always possible to defeat the impossible.

In the spirit of Batyr’s belief in story telling, I have shared a bit of my own experiences and motivations behind participating in Civic2Surf. Each participant has a different backstory, and the run has a different meaning to everyone, but what everyone has in common is an enthusiasm for mental health, smashing the stigma, and taking a step towards making a difference.

The run is an active way of actively creating a positive change about the type of talk that surrounds mental health. It’s easy to say you care, but the commitment and strength that comes with running this event shows the inspiring dedication this group of students have – it is an attitude that we hope to spread, to create a better future.

You can make a donation and find out more information at https://hub.benojo.com/campaigns/57902edf800dff11002df5db

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