Bunbury man prepares to walk Cape to Cape track for Zero2Hero youth mental health organisation

Trek: Bunbury's Rhys Pearce will be walking the Cape to Cape Track over five days to raise money and awareness for Zero2Hero. Picture: Jemillah Dawson.
Trek: Bunbury's Rhys Pearce will be walking the Cape to Cape Track over five days to raise money and awareness for Zero2Hero. Picture: Jemillah Dawson.

What could be so hard about walking 135 kilometres in five days?

That is what Bunbury man Rhys Pearce first thought when he signed up to do the Cape to Cape Track to raise money for Zero2Hero.

However, his mentality quickly changed after his first training session which included walking eight kilometres in the sand in two hours.

"It is physically demanding in that regard," he said.

Zero2Hero is a youth mental health charity which aims to educate and empower students to effectively deal with mental health issues.

The not for profit organisation holds camps for high school students which teaches them about coping mechanisms for mental health issues and how to help others who are struggling.

Mr Pearce has known about the organisation for quite some as his friend Steve Archibald works for the not-for-profit.

"I have tried to support him with his endeavours and this time I thought I would go one step better and do the trek," he said.

"It is such a good cause and doing something that not many people want to talk about but is something we need to be talk about is important."

Mr Pearce said half the reason why he was doing the trek was because how common suicide was.

"Certainly we all know someone who has or has tried to commit suicide," he said.

"Suicide is unfortunately quite rampant and biggest killer for 15-44 and should be raising more alarms bells than it does.

"The government doesn't spend any money on preventative measures, only treatment and cures.

"Which is important but leaves not for profit to do the prevention stuff."

Mr Pearce said there was nothing like Zero2Hero when he was going through high school.

"I had significant mental health challenges with bullying etc, which I know isn't uncommon," he said.

"But if I had a peer that could have helped with some coping mechanisms, would have been great.

"So to support a charity that does, is incredibly close to home."

Mr Pearce will be one of 60 walkers from March 21 to take the Cape to Cape for Zero2Hero.

He said the organisation had provided a comprehensive training program and there was a lot of information about how to prepare for such a walk.

"There is so much talk about wearing in your hiking shoes, can't wear your Nike Airs," Mr Pearce said.

"You have to get used to wearing a backpack of about 5kg on your back as well."

While Mr Pearce said he wasn't nervous about the trek, he said he was "concerned" he would get a blister early or have chaffing.

"The challenge is if you get sand in your boots that can cause a blister no matter how worn in your shoes are," he said.

The group will be walking 25-35 kilometres a day and are all encouraged to switch off from technology.

Zero2Hero chief executive officer Ashlee Harrison said the trek, alike the camp, would provide a safe space to slow down, connect with like-minded people and partake in vulnerable conversation about mental health.

"Imagine how mental health in Australia would improve if our schools and workplaces put wellbeing first. Imagine how we would all feel if our culture found a way to include crucial practices like unplugging and being in nature into our everyday or weekly lives," she said.

Mr Pearce had the goal to raise $2,000 and he said he had already nearly doubled that amount.

"The feedback I have received from people that have donated has been overwhelmingly positive," he said.

He said how people have opened up about their mental health challenges as well as wanting to get involved themselves.

"I think now more than ever, especially over the last couple of years with pandemic and Ukraine, it is incredibly important to look after our mental health and talk about it," he said.

"Particularly if you have kids in school that are having a tough time, reach out to zero2hero."

If you need to talk to someone, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.