Go­ing the dis­tance

Tack­ling a walk to pre­vent sui­cide

Napier Courier - - Front Page -

Mitchell Per­fect and Thomas Han­son are tak­ing more than one step in the right di­rec­tion — they are tak­ing around 3000km of steps.

Mitchell, 22, and Thomas, 23, are walk­ing the talk, hik­ing the length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa Trail, a 3000km trail that spans the length of the coun­try start­ing at Cape Reinga and end­ing at the Bluff.

“Our project is called Walk to Talk — our main goal is to raise aware­ness and talk about the is­sues sur­round­ing sui­cide,” Mitchell says.

By do­ing the walk, the pair hopes to get peo­ple out walk­ing with them and be the peo­ple who are there to lis­ten.

“We came up with the idea af­ter a close friend of ours took his own life just over a year ago. He was mes­sag­ing me a few days be­fore with talks about com­plet­ing a sim­i­lar walk in the USA called the PCT.”

Mitchell says their main goal is to one day com­plete that in his mem­ory.

“But this is our warm up. This ven­ture is im­por­tant to us be­cause not only are we rais­ing aware­ness for some­thing that has had such a huge im­pact on us over the last year, but even if we can help one per­son that rip­ple ef­fect will help hun­dreds.”

Mitchell and Thomas headed off from Cape Reinga on Septem­ber 23 and made it to Te Kuiti last week. They are plan­ning on the whole trip tak­ing be­tween four and five months, hop­ing to be fin­ished around Fe­bru­ary.

As Te Araroa is an of­fi­cial trail, they are fol­low­ing the maps pro­vided very closely. Mitchell says the sup­port they have re­ceived has been huge.

“So far fam­ily and friends have opened their houses along the way and pro­vided amaz­ing cooked meals, but even the gen­eral Kiwi hos­pi­tal­ity has been amaz­ing through North­land and I’m sure it will con­tinue.”

That in­cludes both for­mer Taradale High School stu­dents’ em­ploy­ers. Mitchell has re­cently com­pleted his electrical ap­pren­tice­ship at Roberts Electrical and Thomas Han­son worked at Black Barn ear­lier this year to fund the trip.

“Both work­places have spon­sored us greatly to com­plete the walk along with Kath­mandu and Radix Nu­tri­tion.”

Mitchell says af­ter more than a month in, the bod­ies are still wak­ing up with pain and blis­ters.

“But it’s get­ting bet­ter each day so we can’t com­plain.”

He says the big­gest chal­lenge so far has been 90 Mile beach.

“Men­tally and phys­i­cally it was drain­ing. Walk­ing down a beach for four days with no end in sight was tough.”

The high­light so far has been the peo­ple they’ve met along the way.

“Peo­ple from all over the world com­ing to­gether for the same goal is some­thing spe­cial. The feed­back and sup­port from ev­ery­one back home and wider New Zealand has been amaz­ing — from sim­ply lik­ing our posts to the huge num­ber of do­na­tions re­ceived for Life Mat­ters Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Trust.

The pair has so far raised $5200 and hope to raise $10,000.

■ To make a do­na­tion visit their In­sta­gram ac­count @walk.to.talk or Face­book page walk to talk and fol­low the links.

Thomas Han­son (left) and Mitchell Per­fect be­gin their trek along the Te Araroa walk­way to raise aware­ness and funds for sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

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