Thursday, 10 March 2005

Six riders will cycle across Australia in an endeavour to raise awareness about “at risk” behaviour among young people in small rural communities on April 5.

“Studies have shown that rural adolescents have some of the highest at risk statistics,” says Jonathan Duffy, Director of Adventist Health, a department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific. “They are up to four times more likely to commit suicide and females living in a rural community are up to 11 times more likely to experience physical abuse. They are also more likely to use illicit substances.”

The Circle of Courage Bike Ride is organised by Adventist Health. The riders and their support team will start their journey from the Murray Street Mall in Perth on April 5 at 8 a.m. and finish off at the Sydney Opera House on May 5.

“I am very concerned about the increase of risk behaviour in young people,” says Mr. Duffy. “I want to challenge the adults in rural communities to take the leading role in developing positive community relationships. This will build resilience and self-esteem amongst the young people.”

Mr. Duffy and his team will be covering an average of 165km a day during the ride. They will be speaking at local community venues organised through community groups such as the Lions Club every evening. The riders will introduce to parents and other interested adults the Circle of Courage principles for building resilience in young people.

The Circle of Courage is a philosophy that invites people to see themselves as belonging to a community and take the step forward as independent people, able to make wise choices about how to live life.

Very soon, I'm going to become the expert in unknown towns of the southern end of Australia.

Being in charge of the media relations of this project means I have to track down all the newspapers and radio stations operating in all the towns they visit.

Which means having to actually know where places like Bookabie and Wagga Wagga are.

Have been studying the map of Australia for two days now and cross-referencing it with the list of newspapers and radio stations we have, and trying to find out which newspapers cover which areas.

On top of trying to write media releases, coordinate with town representatives and come up with press kits.

By the end of it all, I'm probably going to know more of Australia than some Aussies do.

And yes, I'm going on the cycle tour with the team, although it hasn't been decided if I'm going to be staying for the whole thing.

And no, I'm not cycling. If I did, there will be no media relations whatsoever happening during the entire trip. The only relations there's going to be will be my relations with the bed in a motel.

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