Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Teen sets challenge
Jyah Hebbard is too young to participate in Dry July alongside his mother Christie, but he still wanted to do something to help raise awareness of mental health issues this month.
The 13 year-old has set himself his own version of a health and fitness challenge to bring attention to bullying and youth suicide.
And he’s bringing the Deniliquin Drovers Rugby Union Club along for the ride, challenging its players to double his daily exercise regime for each day this month.
While Jyah’s challenge is more about raising awareness than funds, he said any money he does make will be donated to improve the facilities at his favourite recreation spot in Deniliquin.
‘‘If I could raise a little bit of money, I would like to see the skate park fixed up a bit,’’ Jyah said.
‘‘I wanted to start a challenge because youth suicide is really high, and bullying is a big problem too.
‘‘I also thought it would be great to get other people involved, and I knew Daz (Drovers player Darren Higgins) and I had been to watch a few rugby games before so mum reached out to him for me.’’
Mr Higgins said he took the idea of meeting Jyah’s challenge to his coach Mark Thompson and club president Paul Marshall, and both were happy for the players to support the cause.
‘‘The youth around here are struggling, partly because there is not much here for them to do,’’ Mr Higgins said.
‘‘It’s good to see someone like Jyah step out of his comfort zone and do something important.
‘‘Anything we can do to support him, we will.’’
Mr Higgins was the first player nominated to meet the teen’s challenge. Each player to complete the challenge will then nominate another to double the next day’s routine. Jyah does not have a set routine each day, but has already set a pretty high bar for the Drovers’ boys.
On his first day — July 1 — he completed 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 sit-ups, 20 jumping jacks, a 30 second plank and a 12km run.
To launch the campaign, Jyah was invited to the Deniliquin Drovers’ training on Saturday where they included him in a game of touch football.
Ms Hebbard said Jyah was inspired to challenge himself and raise awareness because of his own experience with bullying in the past.
She said the taunting led to him losing his confidence in playing sport, particularly football, and also prompted the family to relocate to Echuca-Moama where she said he is thriving in a new community and school environment.
‘‘Now he is at St Joseph’s in Echuca he has really started to find his feet and confidence again, and this challenge is his response to learning about the rate of youth suicide and bullying,’’ Ms Hebbard said.
‘‘Jyah wants to join the police when he is older, specifically to be a youth liaison officer.
‘‘He wanted to do something to raise awareness of these issues, as well as looking after his own mind and body.
‘‘He has already challenged the Deniliquin Drovers in the challenge, but he’s also been talking about challenging his PE teachers as well.’’
The Australian Government organisation Health Direct says suicide is the leading cause of death among young Australians.
It said about 350 young people aged 15 to 24 take their own lives every year, and that for every youth suicide, there are 100 to 200 more attempts.
■ Anyone requiring crisis support can contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. All three also have a ‘chat online’ service.