RIDERS on the new Ride for Youth Mid West route to raise awareness about mental health will visit Northam High School next month.
The eight teams of 42 riders will start in Geraldton and stop off in Northam to talk to students on March 24 before pedalling the final stretch to Perth.
The Hawaiian-sponsored ride celebrates its 15th anniversary this year to boost the coffers of Youth Focus, the not-for-profit group providing free professional counselling to people aged 12 to 25 in need of help.
Youth Focus chief executive Fiona Kalaf said she was pleased Northam had become involved with the event comprising three routes from Albany to Perth plus the new route from Geraldton.
“Youth Focus already has a positive relationship with Northam Senior High School through our tele-counselling program that enables vulnerable students to talk to counsellors in Perth via iPads,” Ms Kalaf said.
“But just as importantly, the school’s motto of ‘Achievement’ resonates with Youth Focus, which also believes in encouraging young people to reach their potential in everything they do.”
The school visits involve riders talking to students about their journey and sharing news on this year’s theme of “connect”to put the spotlight on connecting to services as well as friends and families.
Ms Kalaf said the 700km Mid West ride would travel through Morawa, Dalwallinu, New Norcia, Toodyay, Northam and then to Kings Park to arrive on March 25.
“Not only will the riders visit two schools along the way (Mid West route but they will also engage with various community organisations about Youth Focus and the ride.”
Ride for Youth has more than 175 riders participating overall in coastal, inland and Wheatbelt pelotons from Albany to Perth, as well as the new Mid West ride.
Across the four and half day event, there will be 23 school visits where more than 3500 young people will learn about mental health.
Ms Kalaf said the statistics around suicide were alarming.
“One West Australian takes their own life every day, including one young person under the age of 25 each week,” she said.
The event has raised more than $15 million since it started in 2003 with $10 million raised in the past five years alone.