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Mental health charity changing lives with dog walking challenge

Posted in Our Community @ Mar 3rd 2022 - By Mental Wheels Foundation
Mental Health Charity Changing Lives With Dog Walking Challenge

Goal to raise $1 million and save 1,000 dogs from shelters to become therapy dogs for people with mental health adversities

#WALK4PAWS #MentalHealthMarch

Vaughan McVilly is on a life-changing mission with his inspiring pooch, Gilly. They want you to sign up and join them in changing the state of mental and physical health in Australia for two-legged and four-legged friends and family!

Like so many people, Vaughan has been through his own battle with mental health. A failed business, which made him feel like he let down his family and his partner, led him to a dark place and the road back was long, hard and very lonely.

However, that same road led this Sydney man to many amazing humans, beautiful stories and a special girl named Gilly – named after his late father - who helped guide him back. The nine-month-old Border Collie brings the father of two so much joy and fulfillment each day.

“Gilly and I walk every day and love to learn new things together,” says Vaughan. “Gilly shows unconditional love and provides me with a higher sense of purpose. She relies on me for physical and mental stimulus as well as food, and I depend on her for mental and physical motivation and licks!”

Today, Vaughan is a passionate advocate for improving mental health and co-founded the WALK4PAWS Mental Health March Dog Walking Challenge and is a board member of Mental Wheels Foundation (MWF) charity, focused on changing lives by improving mental health in Australia.

According to Lifeline, nine Australians die every day by suicide and more than 65,000 make a suicide attempt each year.

“Awareness of mental health issues is now high but there is still a gap in developing real life changing programs and initiatives,” says Vaughan.

“Mental health awareness campaigns have been doing a great job and making us aware of problems, but after someone asks ARE U OK and the person says NO, what do you do next? “MWF raises funds to support research and organisations, like MindSpot, that will make sure that there is something you can offer after someone say I am not ok.”

Vaughan McVilly with his inspiring pooch, Gilly.

WALK4PAWS Mental Health March Dog Walking Challenge

This March, Mental Wheels Foundation is running its first annual WALK4PAWS Mental Health March Dog Walking Challenge, which aims to inspire two and fourlegged friends and family to combat mental and physical health adversities faced by Australians.

Walk4Paws aims to have 10,000 people and their dogs walking by the end of March, plus raise $1 million for mental health research and programs to make a real positive impact on mental health in Australia, says Gareth Pike, co-founder of MWF.

“Research shows that walking improves physical fitness – reducing obesity – and mental health in both people and their pets,” he says.

“Our main goal is to take 1,000 dogs from animal shelters and, in partnership with MindDog, train them to be service dogs and paired with a person suffering from mental health adversities in a 12-month program that delivers amazing results!”

MindDog psychiatric assistance dogs help people with mental health disorders, whose lives are often severely compromised by anxiety and fear, to travel on public transport, access public places and take part in social activities which have been closed off to them.

In addition, MWF has teamed up with MQ Health (a research division of Macquarie University) to fund and run its own clinical trial cohorts that deliver meaningful data around mental health and wellbeing.

WALK4PAWS Mental Health Dog Walking Challenge - credit Brady Wakely

EVENT INFORMATION

WALK4PAWS Mental Health March Dog Walking Challenge

WALK4PAWS Mental Health March Dog Walking Challenge is a mental health challenge which aims to inspire Australians to walk their dogs in the month of March. You can start on any day and entry is FREE!

How It Works

  • Walk your dog for 30 minutes every day for 30 days. You can kick your 30 days off any day during the month of March.
  • Post a pic or video of you walking your dog and tag #Walk4Paws and #MentalHealthMarch each day.
  • Each day nominate another dog owner to accept the challenge.
  • It is not compulsory to raise funds however all participants are encouraged to raise funds for mental health research and programs.

Sign up here https://walk-4-paws.raisely.com For more information, contact hey@walk4paws.com.au

OTHER UPCOMING FUNDRAISING EVENTS

Break the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of dogs in one photoshoot

Sunday, 27th March 2022

The record currently stands at 710. Goal is to gather 1,000 dogs in a photoshoot at an iconic Sydney location.

Break the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of dogs being walked at one time for more than 1km.

30th March 2022

The record currently stands at 38. MWF Ambassador Jo McVilly, co-owner of Iron Bark Dog Park in Boonah QLD, aims to walk 45 dogs.

Virtual Dog Walks and Talks with MWF Ambassadors

Month of March

MWF Ambassadors will take over Walk4Paws Instagram and go live for a 30 min talk. Participants will be able to go for a walk with their dogs and listen in and (if they like) interact with ambassadors, including mental health professionals, dog trainers, meditation teachers, to name a few.

For updates, visit https://walk-4-paws.raisely.com/events

About Mental Wheels Foundation

Mental Wheels Foundation aims to change lives by improving mental health in Australia. Their mission to understand why and how to improve mental health through research, support the community through accessible clinical programs and Mental Wheel of Life workshops, and to assist individuals with Foundation Scholarships.

To discover much more, visit www.mentalwheelsfoundation.org

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