Rushoon prin­ci­pal raises aware­ness for men­tal health

Lee Mas­ters says walk a suc­cess

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY COLIN FAR­RELL

“When some­one is be­hind you, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, there is no way you could pos­si­bly fail.”

Stu­dents and staff of Christ the King School in Rushoon cheered loudly as the school’s prin­ci­pal came into sight, near­ing the end of his 50-km walk to school last Tues­day.

In cel­e­bra­tion of World Men­tal Health Day, Lee Mas­ters set out to help raise aware­ness of men­tal health is­sues by walk­ing from his home in Win­ter­land to the school in Rushoon.

The walk took 11 hours to com­plete. Mas­ters left home in the early morn­ing hours and ar­rived at the school shortly be­fore 2:30p.m.

Mas­ters told the South­ern Gazette he re­ceived a lot of sup­port from peo­ple in com­plet­ing his goal.

“The was one lady – she told me that she wasn’t go­ing to sleep know­ing that I was out there walk­ing alone in the dark,” he ex­plained. “(She said) she thought what I was do­ing was very worth­while cause and she wanted to do her small part to make sure I stayed safe.”

The lady fol­lowed Mas­ters and pro­vide light for him dur­ing the first part of his walk.

“That meant a lot to me, and is the main rea­son I lit­er­ally ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tion when it came time to do the walk,” he said. “I was a lot faster over the first two-thirds of the course than I ex­pected to be.

“When some­one is be­hind you, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively, there is no way you could pos­si­bly fail.”

Mas­ters was also met by two women in Marystown who joined him on a por­tion of his walk.

Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the walk on Tues­day, stu­dents gath­ered to ask ques­tions about the walk and why Mas­ters wanted to do it.

Some asked if was scared dur­ing the walk, if there was a point where he didn’t think he could com­plete it, how much wa­ter he drank, and what he did when he needed to use the wash­room.

“The younger stu­dents were keenly in­ter­ested in the phys­i­cal chal­lenge that I un­der took, the 50-km walk was what sort of amazed them, and they had a lot of ques­tions about what I had to do to pre­pare, how I felt, if I ever got scared, and dif­fer­ent ques­tions like that.”

He added that older stu­dents’ ques­tions fo­cused on look­ing out to one’s men­tal health.

“They seemed to un­der­stand that for me, be­com­ing a walker was my way to de­com­press at the end of a day. They also un­der­stood that, just like my walk – a por­tion of it was com­pleted with some com­pany … and some I did alone. Some­times it’s okay to be alone and lis­ten to mu­sic or do what you need to do for your­self.

“Then there are times when you need to talk— share that with your fam­ily and friends, so there were a lot of good fol­low up ques­tions.”

Mas­ters said the re­sponse he con­tin­ues to get from the walk is over­whelm­ing, with many ask­ing if he plans to do it again.

If he does, he will add a twist, en­cour­ag­ing other or­ga­ni­za­tions and schools in the area to pick up the chal­lenge.

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