Peer Support Australia’s annual Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon has returned during a time when 40 per cent of young people report concern for their mental health.
A traditional walk-a-thon with aspects of relationship building and mental wellbeing Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon will encourage students to talk to their peers, develop new friendships and strengthen their relationships within their school community.
Greg Cantwell, CEO of Peer Support Australia, said “Our program has always been important but the mental health effects on school-aged children during COVID-19 have been even more prominent this year.
“The 2020 Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon encourages students to talk to their peers and build relationships, which after a year of social distancing and disruption is much needed in Australian schools.”
According to Black Dog Institute Australia, young people turn to friends and parents for support first and then the internet. The purpose of the Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon is to encourage communication and exercise, which are vital for good mental health.
“This year has been an unsettling time for students and teachers alike,” Cantwell said.
“Some children and young people are still experiencing disruption to their routine and usual school rituals such as graduations and other celebrations. Providing COVID-safe experiences for students to reconnect with their school community is critical for the mental health and wellbeing of our young people.”
This year’s Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon is designed to be flexible, the walk’s distance, location and participating year levels can be changed to suit each school’s needs.
“The great thing about the Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon is how it caters to the different needs of students and schools regardless of whether they are at school or a mixture of school based and remote learning,” Mr Cantwell said.
“We are especially encouraging schools that are recommencing in-person teaching to use the Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon as an opportunity for students to reconnect, while remote learning students can use the talking points included in our toolkit to start online conversations.”
The 2020 Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon event coincides with National Mental Health Month this October. Participation is free and schools can register by heading to www.peersupport.edu.au. Registered schools will receive a Talk-and-Walk-a-Thon toolkit.