Hunting Hills High School (HHHS) will host its third annual Bike-A-Thon in the name of raising awareness for mental health issues and the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding such issues.
Each year, the event has grown and this year it will see 64 teams of between six and eight students who will keep stationary bikes pedalling for a full 24 hours. The event takes place from April 16th-17th with community and school alumni riders accepted as well.
In 2012 and 2013 the City was devastated by a high number of teen suicides. These cases prompted a community discussion and action to be taken. Part of that action has become the Hunting Hills Bike-a-Thon as a way to commemorate and work for those students from the school who had taken their lives.
“It started after there were some issues in our community surrounding mental health. Some of the leadership kids heard about a bike-a-thon done in other parts of Alberta, and felt they wanted to do it, but with a spin on mental health due to what had been going on in our community with the high numbers of suicides and then discussions,” said Leadership Advisor Alicia Bryar of HHHS.
“The kids really pushed for this. They were really excited to do it.”
Since its inception the event has grown massively. The event raises funds and awareness, with those collected monies going to such things as an annual Grade 9 orientation day and a ‘Breaking Down the Walls’ presentation by Phil Boyte which provides information on social stigma surrounding mental health. Bryar said that the presentation has been well received by students and the workshops have been very beneficial to the school’s sense of community.
“With the ‘Breaking Down the Walls’ workshops, the kids get to know more students that maybe they wouldn’t usually talk to, and get those connections to feel more involved and included in a sense of family,” Bryar said.
She added the funds would also go towards updating a library common area for students to have a safe place to relax and recharge.
The event will feature community and alumni bikes open to public participants. These spots are filled in 30-minute blocks and still have many open times available.
For information on how to sign up for a community or alumni spot, to donate or to receive further information on the event, contact HHHS at 403-342-6655.
“I know it can be hard for people to plan, but we’re about a week out here and we’re hoping we can get a lot more community members and alumni involved. Anyone who’s been to Hunting Hills in the last 20 years, we’d love for them to come back and take part in this,” Bryar said.