This time last year, 12-year-old Wagga girl Latisha Peverell saw a need to help locals struggling with mental health and decided to do something about it.
Latisha reached out to Walk’n’Talk, a Sydney suicide prevention program designed to get people opening up, and convinced them to expand to the Riverina.
Now, 12 months later, Walk’n’Talk Wagga has become a community unto itself and is gearing up to celebrate its first anniversary with a one-year celebration walk on November 25.
Looking back at the successes of the last year, Latisha said the best part has been seeing new friendships blossom during the walks
“Walk’n’Talk has been amazing this year, it’s helped so many people, and we’re hoping that next year’s going to be just as good,” she said.
“There are so many people now who have become friends and support each other.”
With walks on the last Sunday of every month, Walk’n’Talk Wagga has been steadily growing over the year, but Latisha very wisely said that it was about something a lot bigger than the numbers.
“It’s not really important to have a big turn out – what we really, really want is the people that do come to take away something they need from it,” she said.
“As long as we can help people who do come, it doesn’t really matter how many people we get there.”
The initiative was started almost three years ago in Sydney by former NRL player Shannon Nevin, who saw the potential of small communities of people to help each other through tough times.
After seeing Wagga’s success this year, Mr Nevin said he could not be more impressed.
“Wagga’s done amazing things this year, they’ve got a passion for it, and they’re sharing the load,” he said.
“I see what they’re doing, I’ve spoken to lots of different people, and over time it really has created a safe, friendly place where people can connect with each other.”
After attending a walk around Lake Albert one Sunday morning, the Australian Horizons Foundation approached Mr Nevin about setting up more communities around the country.
“I’m now in the process of signing an agreement with them, and they want to raise some funds to help us set up 10 rural Walk’n’Talks in country Australia,” he said.
- If you are struggling with mental health, call Lifeline on 13 11 14