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Students Ski for Life - and mental health

Schools

As their muscles ached and their balance wavered while skiing the length of the River Murray in South Australia, brothers Andrew and Oscar Klose remained determined to achieve their goal in support of long-held friendships and an important cause.

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The Rostrevor College students understand the sometimes tragic consequences of depression and used that to motivate them during the 450km Ski for Life event held over the long weekend which raises money and awareness for mental health programs.

The Year 11 and 12 boarders, from Lucindale in the South East, were part of a seven-member relay team aged 16 to 60 that had formed a strong bond over many years, skiing together at Sunnyside near Murray Bridge.

“We do a lot of skiing with them and one of our group lost her brother to suicide so, for our team, it is personal,” Andrew said.

With an initial fundraising target of $2000, the ‘Sunnysiders’ team was overwhelmed with support, raising $8000, including a substantial contribution from Rostrevor College.

Fellow students held a Shrove Tuesday fundraising event and purchased blue wrist bands to wear on the day in solidarity with the Klose brothers and their cause.

For Oscar, the event was “far more emotional than I thought it would be” with hundreds of people from communities along the length of the river cheering on the fast-paced flotilla as the skiers passed.

“Especially at Renmark, everybody was cheering as each of the boats came in – it was really special,” Oscar said.

The official relay was from Murray Bridge to Renmark but the Sunnysiders added an “over achievers’ leg” and extended its effort from Lake Alexandrina to the NSW border for a total of 660km in three days.

Andrew (left) and Oscar Klose in action on the River Murray over the weekend.

Apart from the physical challenge of skiing 150km each, Oscar said the team members wanted to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health problems, particularly in regional areas affected by drought.

“It’s a subject that is quite close to us,” he said.

“We know of quite a few people who have experienced some form of depression, and there’s probably more of it than we realise,” Andrew said.

Deputy Principal Frank Ranaldo said he was proud of Andrew and Oscar as well as the student leaders who had backed the cause and coordinated college fundraising efforts.

“Providing a supportive and open approach to young men’s health is our highest priority as student wellbeing underpins everything else,” Mr Ranaldo said.

Ski for Life Incorporated, which aims to raise $50,000 from this year’s event, distributes grants of up to $5000 to groups and organisations that provide services or resources in the areas of mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention.

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