Home

Ride for Youth cyclists stop at Harvey Shire schools as part of quest to improve youth mental health

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Year 10 students from Australind Senior High School welcome riders from the Ride for Youth Coastal peloton.
Camera IconYear 10 students from Australind Senior High School welcome riders from the Ride for Youth Coastal peloton. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

A group of lycra-wearing cyclists is not a common sight within most school grounds, but it was the case on Friday for students in the Harvey region.

Two groups of riders from the Hawaiian Ride for Youth made their stop at high schools late last week as part of their lengthy journey from Albany to Perth, raising funds and awareness for youth mental health.

At 9am, riders from the Inland peloton arrived at Harvey Senior High School after travelling through Mount Barker, Manjimup, Bridgetown and Collie.

Ride for Youth rider Kevin Wernli speaks to students at Harvey Senior High School.
Camera IconRide for Youth rider Kevin Wernli speaks to students at Harvey Senior High School. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.

READ NOW

Stopping off at various schools along the way, the riders take turns in speaking to students about their experiences with mental health.

Physiotherapist Kevin Wernli told students to focus on MESS — mindfulness, exercise, sleep and support — and reminded them it was OK to not be OK.

“We all go through these ups and downs — there will be days where we feel more energetic and better and days where we feel less energetic and better, and that exists on a spectrum,” he said.

“I view it as a bit like the ride we’ve been on — the valleys can be really tough but if you just keep moving forward, no matter how fast or slow we are, we will eventually move out of it — it is not a permanent state.”

Ride for Youth rider Phil Renshaw fields questions from students at Australind Senior High School.
Camera IconRide for Youth rider Phil Renshaw fields questions from students at Australind Senior High School. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

An hour later, riders from the Coastal peleton arrived at Australind Senior High School following their journey through Walpole, Pemberton and Busselton.

Rider Phil Renshaw, a 13-time veteran of the ride, told students to talk to others about their circumstances.

“Don’t keep it to yourself, don’t hold it in — reach out and talk to somebody,” he said.

“You may want to talk your parents, your friends or your teachers, because every one of them care for you and by reaching out to them and talking to them about the way you feel, they will be responsive.”

Ride for Youth rider Phil Renshaw speaks to students at Australind Senior High School.
Camera IconRide for Youth rider Phil Renshaw speaks to students at Australind Senior High School. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Youth Focus regional manager Mark Barrett-Lennard said the riders helped lessen the stigma and distress surrounding mental health with their school visits.

He asked anyone experiencing mental health issues to reach out, particularly if it is having a significant impact.

“There are people that understand your experience and will be compassionate and kind to you — in fact people will be more kind and compassionate than you think,” he said.

The ride, which concluded on Saturday, saw 155 riders cycle more than 700km from Albany to Perth over four and a half days to raise funds for Youth Focus, a non-profit organisation providing mental health support and programs to young people aged 12-25.

As of 6pm Sunday, the cyclists had raised $2.26 million.

For more information, visit www.rideforyouth.com.au.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails