16.5 C
Byron Shire
May 20, 2022

Soul surfer responds to Youth Mental Health Issues

Latest News

Richmond candidates 2022: The Greens, Mandy Nolan

Mandy Nolan needs little introduction to most readers of The Echo, where she has a weekly column. She is a comedian and journalist running as a candidate for The Greens in the federal seat of Richmond.

Other News

Cost of living and taxes

Why is there so much interest in stats and percentages? How does the average house price or rent translate...

Multi-agency search continues for missing man

NSW Police say a search is continuing this morning for a man who went missing in a creek overnight.

Ballina osprey platform in dangerous disrepair

As nesting season approaches, wildlife carer and local bird expert Deb Pearse has contacted The Echo about her concerns for the precarious state of the Brunswick Street osprey nesting platform, near the river in Ballina.

$17m in funds for work on crown lands in NSW

If you are involved in managing crown reserve land and facilities then now is the time to get that application in for a share of the $17 million that is available fro the 2022-3 funding round. 

Our sitting member

The sitting member for Richmond, Labor’s Justine Elliott, is aptly named because, as far as I have seen, that’s...

Gameau’s Regenerating Australia screens May 20

Regenerating Australia, by Damon Gameau, is a short film that looks back at the next ten years from the eve of 2029 and recounts all of the actions we have taken on climate change and ecological degradation.

[author]Simeon Michaels[/author]

According to the Northern NSW Health Service, the mental health of youth in our region is on par with the national average, with approximately one in five youth suffering from issues such as alcoholism, anxiety and depression.

Longboarder and Lennox Head resident Ben Dickens is ranked fifth in Australia and 12th in the world, recently winning both the Byron and Lennox longboarding championships.

How are these facts related? It is Ben Dickens’s belief that our oceans and rivers provide a remedy for much that ails our youth.

In conjunction with the Distance Education Centre (DEC) run out of Southern Cross K–12 in Ballina, Ben operates water-based courses for approximately 70 children who no longer attend school across Northern NSW.

‘The system has failed these kids,’ he says, ‘and they’ve withdrawn from society. Often they’re too depressed or anxious to leave the house. They’ve disengaged.’ Ben cites inadequate parenting or alcoholism at home, bullying at school and, surprisingly, illiteracy. ‘Kids get all the way through primary school and they still can’t read; of course they drop out.’

Through his company Rubber Soul, Ben also operates specialist courses for Indigenous kids, youth emerging from juvenile detention, the elderly, and people with mental and physical disabilities. Courses range from a morning Stand-Up Paddle session to 20-week ‘job-ready’ certificate courses.

‘We take students into a positive environment, we give them exercise and a sense of achievement; the ocean works its magic,’ says Dickens. One senses that enormous thought goes into each of his programs. After he takes kids snorkelling, he sits them down with a fish guide and makes them identify and research the fish they have just seen. After teaching bodysurfing, he gives them the material to make their own hand-plane. After two hours out on the water, he shows them how to cook a healthy, nutritious meal on the cheap.

As for Ben’s ‘elite’ group of six competitive surfers, ‘If they don’t get a good report, I stop coaching them’.

Ben urges action at the first signs of a youth withdrawing.

‘Everyone likes to pretend its all fluffy fluffy, that we’re living in paradise. No-one wants to admit that their kid is depressed, or anxious, or violent, or has a drug problem, or can’t read. You don’t have to be their parent, you could be a relative or a neighbour, but you’ve got to help them.’

It’s a sad fact that many of Dickens’s rescue missions are self-funded. ‘I don’t know where that $1 billion that Julia promised for mental health is going, but none of it’s ended up here,’ he says. He continues to seek public- and private-sector support to expand his programs for disadvantaged youth.

 

Image: Ben Dickens with protege and International Surfing Association young ambassador Jack Murray. Photo Craig Parry: www.craigparry.com.au


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The protest vote

Uncanny that in this federal election, in Richmond as elsewhere, the freedom/protest vote parties just about all preference the National or Liberal candidate. To...

Inflated Scomo

During his term, Scomo made plenty of decisions that helped lead us to the inflation we face today. When he says we should not...

Our sitting member

The sitting member for Richmond, Labor’s Justine Elliott, is aptly named because, as far as I have seen, that’s all she’s done for the...

Bittersweet announcement about koalas

Bitter in its necessity and sweet in the action it might prompt, it has been announced today that koalas have been listed as Endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.