Joeys’ students raise big in increasing awareness for mental health

September 4, 2021 BY

St Joseph's College students Connor O'Sullivan (ABOVE) and Anton Ridgway (INSET) Photos: SUPPLIED

BY GROWING a mullet and swimming hundreds of kilometres, two Year 12 students have put the spotlight on mental health and collectively raised more than $30,000 for national charities.

St Joseph’s College ‘Justice and Solidarity’ prefects Connor O’Sullivan and Anton Ridgway undertook gigantic efforts to raise awareness for mental health, and fundraise for two separate initiatives; Mullets for Mental Health and Laps for Lifeline.

Mr Ridgway took part in the Black Dog Institute’s Mullets for Mental Health campaign, raising more than $27,000 with help from friends, family and teachers who assisted in increasing awareness on the topic.

The 18-year-old surpassed his first fundraising goal within a few hours, getting things in motion via social media, where he then took his cause to the school.

Once he and some friends started a group team, Mr Ridgway started gaining more traction and fundraising as a result.

“I decided to get involved with Mullets for Mental Health after everything that was happening around myself and my peer [Connor] with lockdowns and the tragedy we had experienced,” he said.

“We were all very passionate about the topic and the efforts made to encourage people to speak out and support were not limited to just Connor and I.

“In particular, with the spike in isolation haircuts, I thought it would be an easy way to get people on board.”

Being a swimmer, Mr O’Sullivan chose an initiative that included something he enjoyed, which is why he chose to raise money for the Laps for Life initiative.

He swam a total of 100 kilometres over the month of March alongside the St Joseph’s Swim Team. The team of staff and students pooled their efforts to raise over $9,000 and swim a total of 550 kilometres.

“There are proven to be many positive physiological and psychological effects of physical activity, especially from swimming, not to mention after the mentally and emotionally draining 2020,” Mr O’Sullivan, 18, said.

“I wanted to try and spread some positivity back into the community.”

The students and staff are immensely proud of their efforts, but both individuals consider the message they are trying to send to be the more important aspect.

“In all honesty, I’m more grateful to and proud of the people who supported us,” Mr Ridgway said.

“Friends, family and teachers who were there to not only give funds, but also spread the word and the message about why it is so important for us all to take care of one another.”

Mr O’Sullivan hopes that Laps for Life can be even more successful in future years.

People can now register their interest for Laps for Life and Mullets for Mental Health in 2022 at lapsforlife.com.au and blackdoginstitute.org.au.