Youth encouraged to get behind boots for hope campaign

Students in Matamata-Piako are being asked to decorate a gumboot as part of a national campaign to support youth affected by mental illness.

The Matamata-Piako Volunteer Youth Ambassadors (VYA) have started a gumboot art competition in support of Mike King’s Gumboot Friday campaign Gumboot UP NZ.

Gumboots are the symbol of this campaign as Mike King describes his depression as similar to trudging through mud. 

The first Gumboot Friday will occur on 5 April, 2019. People can take photos of themselves in gumboots and make a donation to the charity which provides free counselling to a young person in need.

VYA chair Ruby Stevens said she loved the idea of Gumboot Friday, but thought the district could, instead, get behind the campaign by painting messages of hope on gumboots and still make a donation. 

“Instead of taking photos, I am inviting our youth to paint messages of hope or express themselves and their own journey with mental illness on a gumboot.

“This is such an important message and it’s a conversation we need to keep having, so people affected by mental illness feel surrounded by love and support – that they know others are willing to help them through that mud,” said Ruby.

Ruby said if people don’t have old gumboots at home, to search in opportunity shops, or ask relatives or friends to donate their old boots for a good cause.

The competition, sponsored by Fonterra, is open to students in years 7-13, from within the Matamata-Piako District. There will be a display table for children in years 1-6 or adults who may want to participate, but are not eligible for judging.  

To enter the competition participants need to collect an entry form from any Council office and decorate one gumboot. The boot, a gold coin donation and entry form will need to be dropped into any Council office between now and 3 April to be eligible for judging on Gumboot Friday.

Prizes will be awarded for finalists from each town in the district, as well as for three overall winners.

A selection of gumboots will be displayed in the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville from April 6-28.    

All funds raised will be donated to the I AM HOPE campaign.    

Caption: VYA members Kali Anderson and Ethan O’Sullivan, with MPDC support staff Rebecca Shaw (centre) are helping spread the I am Hope campaign by encouraging youth to paint gumboots to support young people affected by mental illness.