Brittney Johnston, head coach of the Johnston Waters Swimming School, organized a 24-hour swimathon at the Central Southland Community Pool from 9pm on Friday evening to raise money for ‘I Am Hope’. Pictured with her from left are Kenzie Helman, 9, of Wairio, Holly Turner, 8, and her brother Jack Turner, 10, both of Opio. All four swam during the fundraiser.
Children have helped raise thousands of dollars for a charity that delivers mental health talks in schools — just weeks after three young adults died in the region.
Fundraiser organizer Brittney Johnston said about $10,000 had been raised so far for the I am Hope charity, which aims to promote positive change around mental health and provide hope and a voice for young people in schools.
The money was raised through a 24-hour swimathon at the Central Southland Community Pool in Winton, organized by the Johnston Waters Swimming Club of which Johnston is head coach.
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Johnston said she supported the I Am Hope foundation by doing more counseling in schools so that young people can be supported.
“We wanted to do it because we wanted to make a difference in schools.”
Nearly 60 swimmers, mainly young people, took part in the 24-hour swimathon.
Two lanes were open for 24 hours, with swimmers taking turns ensuring that one person swam in each of the two lanes during the fundraiser. A total of 5710 lengths of the 25 meter pool were swum, a total of 129.25 km.
“The kids put their hearts and souls into it…they swam their guts out,” she said.
Three young adults from Southland had died in recent weeks, one in an accident, one suddenly and one from a medical event, and several whanau had supported the swimathon fundraiser.
Johnston said the fundraiser was organized before the dead.
She was saddened by the loss of the young Southlanders.
“That’s the only word I can use, it’s very sad.”
— Where to get help
- 737, do you need to talk? Call or text 1737 toll free to talk to a trained counselor.
- Fear New Zealand 0800 FEAR (0800 269 4389)
- Depression.org.nz 0800 111 757 or text 4202
- Lifeline 0800 543 354
- Mental Health Foundation 09 623 4812, click here to access the free resource and information service.
- National Support Trust 0800 787 254
- Samaritans 0800 726 666
- Suicide crisis helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 SUPPORT)
- Yellow stone road 0800 732 825
- thelowdown.co.nz Web chat, email chat or free text 5626
- What is 0800 942 8787 (for 5 to 18 year olds). Telephone assistance available Monday through Friday from 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM and on weekends from 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Online chat is available daily from 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
- Youth line 0800 376 633, free text 234, email [email protected]or find online chat and other support options here.
- If it’s an emergency, click here to find the number of your local crisis assessment team.
- In a life-threatening situation, call 111.