Gumboot Friday II goes virtual

Mike King.

Like the rest of New Zealand, Mental health charity I Am Hope has had to adapt and overcome Covid lockdown challenges to launch its second Gumboot Friday virtually.

The move for the charity’s flagship service comes amid rising uncertainties concerning level changes and Covid restrictions.

Virtual Gumboot Friday, a second event for 2021, aims to raise funds for free counselling services for young people across New Zealand, and will go ahead on the originally scheduled date of November 5.

I Am Hope founder and mental health champion Mike King’s 100 km walk, and other community activities originally planned at Auckland Domain, will be replaced by a two-hour online ‘motivation marathon’.

The marathon will see Mike King exclusively address the Gumboot Army, made up of hundreds of dedicated volunteers across the country who organise individual and community fundraising efforts.

Each volunteer or team will be allocated 15 minutes to korero with Mike, and Gumboot Friday’s Facebook page will be live streaming throughout the event.

Mike says it’s been tough times, but not as tough as it is for young people who need someone to talk to.

“Like all Kiwis, we’ve had to have some hard conversations and make tough decisions,” says Mike. “It’s been incredibly difficult to come to the decision to postpone our Domain event, because we were trying to make up for the funding shortfall from the first one.”

The first Gumboot Friday event held in May saw Mike and supporters walk upwards of 60km around the Domain, raising $943,000.

“It wasn’t easy to have to weigh things up and make the call on this,” adds Mike. “A lot of people had worked hard on it for a long time, and a lot of people had been really excited about it. It was a downer to have to cancel it.

“But all we need to do to charge up our energy again is think about all the kids that desperately need counselling and can’t get it. We’re ready again to think of new ways of doing things, to shake things up, to help these kids be heard and seen.

“We now rely solely on the Gumboot Army, made up of wonderful people and communities across Aotearoa, to help us reach our goal. These people are passionate, hardworking and dedicated and without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

With the onset of further lockdowns and isolation, I Am Hope recently launched its Gumboot Friday online counselling service nationwide, with patronage going through the roof, demonstrating young people’s urgent need to access counselling sessions promptly more than ever.

I Am Hope encourages the Gumboot Army to go ahead with events while adhering to appropriate Covid level restrictions and safety protocols.

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