St Mary’s drive to raise awareness of mental health issues among young men and to tackle the stigma attached to mental health is never more prominent during World Mental Health week.
The second Friday of October each year is World Mental Health Day and sees the school take part in the ‘Changing Minds’ public speaking competition organised by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
It is symbolic therefore that the following day the school community marks this focus on Mental Health with a 100 mile cycle round Lough Neagh. This year cyclists from four cycling clubs (Phoneix CC, VC Glendale, Rubble CC, Island Wheelers CC) were among the men and women who took part in the event. Indeed the group included past pupils, current staff, parents and grandparents of current pupils as well as other member of the greater St Mary’s community.
A beautiful autumn morning greeted the cyclists to the school at 7.30am to register and roll out at 8.00am. The group headed straight up the Glen Road onto the Colinglen Road and out through Stoneyford, Crumlin and onto Antrim where they headed into Randalstown. From there the group headed through Creggan into Toomebridge and over the Bann turning left onto the Lough shore. Here we passed through Ballymaguigan, Ballyronan, Ballyliffen and Ballinderry before crossing into Co. Tyrone and on through Ardboe and to our food stop at Washing Bay. A wonderful spread awaited the hungry cyclists beautifully prepared and served by the Parent Teacher and Friends Association of St. Mary’s. The food stop was kindly sponsored by ORTUS – The Business Development Agency led by past pupil Seamas O’Prey. The sports drinks were kindly provided by natural energy drinks company ‘Little Big Shot’.
Fed and watered, the cyclists continued on their journey over the footbridge at Maghery and onto Portadown, Lurgan, Moira, Lisburn and back to the school. In total £1002 was raised towards our two nominated partners, Aware Defeat Depression and Falls’ Community Council. We look forward to this year’s event which promises to be bigger and better than before. Any cyclists interested in taking part in this school event can get more information on the school Facebook and Twitter pages. The 2015 Cycle for Mental Health will take place on Saturday 10th October 8.00am.