Ride for Youth participant hopes to start a conversation about mental health

Leon Burgin is in training to take part in the Ride for Youth. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Leon Burgin is in training to take part in the Ride for Youth. Picture: Matt Jelonek

LEON Burgin is hoping to start conversations about mental health when he takes part in the Hawaiian Ride for Youth.

The Burswood resident will be among the riders raising money for Youth Focus

His journey will start in Albany on March 21, visiting schools in Wheatbelt towns such as Katanning and Narrogin, before finishing in Perth on March 25.

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“It’s the fourth time I’ve taken part,” he said. “I started because I knew people who had taken part and it’s something different to do.

“It’s great raising awareness about mental health and talking about it; I knew colleagues and friends who have had mental health issues.

“It’s sad that people are happy to go to the doctor for a cold but they are less inclined to if it’s a mental health issue because of the stigma surrounding it.”

Mr Burgin said the most enjoyable part of the ride was visiting schools along the way.

“We visit about two schools each day and it’s all about starting conversations and engaging with the students,” he said.

“One of the riders will get up and talk about the signs of mental health issues or they will share a personal story about a friend or their own childhood.

“A lot of mental health issues start before people turn 25 so these are important conversations.”

Mr Burgin will be in the Murdoch University-sponsored team with four other riders, who have all been training since October.

“The training is tailored so someone in their mid 60s or someone who has never ridden can do it,” he said.

“At the end of it, you crash but not from the physical exertion but from an emotional perspective, because you have been on such a buzz.

For more information about the ride, visit www.rideforyouth.com.au.