Swim for mental change

2019-03-12 06:01
Mental health activists Christopher Kleynhans (kneeling) and Reece Slade.

Mental health activists Christopher Kleynhans (kneeling) and Reece Slade.

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A joint initiative by two 15-year-olds to raise awareness about mental health kicked off on Saturday 9 March with a 12-hour-long swimming challenge. Dubbed Swim for Change and themed ‘not every disability is visible’, the first leg of the challenge began at Wynberg Boys’ High School. The second leg will be at Reddam House, Constantia, on Saturday 13 April.

According to organisers, Christopher Kleynhans and Reece Slade, the event is hosted in a social manner to make it easy for spectators and participants to learn and engage in conversations and education around mental health.

Reece says the idea of focussing on mental health came about in 2017, while they were dealing with the transition of moving to high school. “We felt the step from junior school to high school was a shock and there was not enough support from the school structures,” says Reece.

Entry to the event cost R50 and its free for children under the age of five-years. Spectators and participants are advised to buy tickets on Webtickets to avoid long queues at the gate on the day of the event.

The events are self-funded and are aimed to raise about R30 000 from both events. Proceeds will be used to fund the expert speakers that will raise awareness around the topic at schools.

Organisers say they would welcome any company or individual that would like to sponsor the event by donating goods or ma-king a financial donation.

The duo says the event has grown bigger and they hope that mental health does not only get attention during their events.

Christopher’s mother and director for Swim for Change, Chanelle Kleynhans, says: “The more people talk about it, the quicker we are going to break the stigma attached to mental health,”

She will be the director of the initiative until the boys turn 18-years-old.

She says their objective is to get the message across to young people.

“We want the youth to speak out and to call for their rights to be upheld by providing an environment for them to reach their full potential,” she says.

Chanelle says this will be done by initiating, developing and implementing mental well-being policies at all the schools.

As part of the programme a number of mental experts will visit schools around the peninsula to talk about mental health related topics including anxiety and teen suicide.

“We encourage schools to participate. There is a floating trophy which will be awarded to the school with the most swimmers at the event,” says Chanelle.

The organisation is calling on schools to support Swim for Change and will also help them to establish their own swimathon or swimming programmes.

V For more information visit their facebook page: Swim for ChangeZA

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