BY SALONEE MISTRY
Almost 200 Monash University students have joined several thousand Australians taking part in The Push-Up Challenge, a fundraiser aimed to raise mental health awareness.
Organised by mental health support service Headspace, the challenge, currently in its third year, gives participants a set number of push-ups to complete every day for 21 days.
The push-ups assigned to any given day signify a statistic attached to a serious mental health issue. Over the 21 days, participants will complete a total of 3,046 push-ups - that number the most significant, as it equates to the number of people lost to suicide in 2018.
Monash University Bachelor of Engineering and Arts student Maddy Barnewall said she got involved in the challenge because she liked the cause behind it.
“It is an important cause to be behind and while I feel pain the next day, I also feel like a part of a huge community, something everyone needs during these times,” Ms Barnewall said.
“We see these statistics all the time, but the fact that I have to do a push-up for every number has a way of embedding it in your mind.”
“Other than believing in the cause, I also thought this was a great opportunity for me to get fit, during the lockdown.”
Just like Ms Barnewall, Rachel Bown-Mayo, also a Monash University student pursuing a Bachelor in Fine Arts, decided to take up the challenge after she learned about it through Headspace’s social media platforms.
“The cause at-hand here affects everyone. I have several friends and family members who have gone through this and so it was important I took part,” Ms Bown-Mayo said.
With the help of close friends and family, she has single-handedly managed to raise $300.
The Push-Up Challenge team had hoped for, but not expected, such high levels of participation and generosity.
The Push-Up Challenge spokesperson Chloe Jeffers said in little over a week they had surpassed $3 million, which they thought would be raised by the end of the challenge.
“We feared that given the current situation people would donate lesser amounts and you can’t blame them. However, people have been so generous it is heart-warming,” Ms Jeffers said.
“People have also gone above and beyond by sharing their stories for participating in the fundraiser and that only keeps us motivated.”
MRS central sports and wellbeing residential advisor Matilda Day said the push-up challenge fits well with the portfolio she handles and mental health was something they planned to focus on this year.
“All of our in-person events were cancelled in-line with the COVID-19 restrictions and the push up challenge posed a great opportunity to keep some sort of activity running,” Ms Day said.
“In the current climate of social isolation a challenge like this helps one stay involved in a fun activity while taking care of your own and an entire community’s wellbeing, which is important.”
One of the NRC organisers, Jason Hu, said it was important to participate for causes of this nature.
“For me, I have personally faced mental health problems and understand the importance of the cause. It is for this very reason that I knew I had to not only be a part of it, but also help organise it,” Mr Hu said.
“As a part of this collaboration we have about 181 Monash students, divided into 30 big and small teams. All teams have their own names but it’s actually one big community.
“We have managed to raise $1200 in the last week and are working towards raising more.”
To encourage participants to raise funds and keep the momentum going, Headspace will be awarding the highest fundraiser with a thrill seekers prize, which was donated to the campaign.
“We are glad that the participation and donations from people have been at par with what had hoped for,” Ms Jeffers said.
This money is going to help a lot of people, especially those who have suffered due to the pandemic.”
This year there are 130,000 participants, more than double last year’s 50,000 challengers.
While registrations to be a part of the push-up challenge have closed, people can still donate by clicking here.