Give A Toot, Or Better Yet, A Dollar Or Two, To A Local Hero Running For Mental Health

Published: Wed 16 Sep 2020 05:00 PM
2020 may be a year of disruption, but for Napier local Jean-Fabien Barrois it’s been pretty routine.
That routine has seen him devotedly don his purple Mental Health New Zealand t-shirt every morning, pull on his sneakers and set of for a 5km run to raise money and awareness for the disorder that will affect one in six New Zealanders.
“I had a crazy idea last November to do something a bit different to raise some money for mental health” says Jean. “I wasn’t the fittest or the fastest, but I liked the idea of running being a way to link physical health with mental health.”
Originally from France but now a resident of Napier South, Jean is a software developer whose work is very sedentary. For desk workers, being physically active and enjoying the fresh air is an important way to stay mentally alert when you don’t get that naturally in your day job. Jean believes that looking after your mental health is a priority for everyone.
“Throughout my life, I came across people suffering from various mental health issues - depression being probably the most common one around. These issues are so widespread that we can all think of someone we know with at least one of these conditions. Besides being a good friend with an attentive ear, or a reliable relative one can count on, there's not much I can do. That’s why I decided to try and help Mental Health New Zealand, they have the networks and knowledge to help reach further than I can do, and need money to do so,” says Jean.
Jean’s original goal was to run 1830 kilometres, or the distance between Whangarei and Invercargill, based on 5 kms for every day of 2020, and raise $1830, or a dollar for every km. Every dollar raised goes directly to Mental Health New Zealand via a Givealittle page called ‘Running for Mental Health.’
His work mates at IQualify have got right in behind him. They have been baking scones and making pulled pork and bao buns for shared lunches, where in lieu of payment, recipients donate to the cause.
With Mental Health awareness week kicking off on 21 September Jean is now just $100 short of his goal. But he has plans to keep going. “I need to keep running for over three more months, so my new target will be to raise $2020 for mental health to honour this very memorable year!”
And for all the apparent drudgery of a daily jog it has indeed been a memorable journey for Jean.
There have been stray dogs, dive-bombing seagulls and magpies to deal with and he has also had to contend with COVID-19 cancelling the Hawke’s Bay Marathon not once but twice.
“I had planned to bank some serious kilometres in the half marathon and of course use the event to raise even more awareness and money for mental health” says Jean. But that didn’t stop him: a hamstring injury almost did though.
“I picked up the injury in May – it slowed me right down to a walk at times, but with good physio I managed to fight it off by June to get back on track”.
So if you see Jean out and about running his route around Napier South and Marine Parade give him a toot or a wave. You’ll have to be keen eyed though; now running at a personal best of 22 minutes, and departing at 6.30am each morning, Jean is soon back at home to wash and dry that one and only purple t-shirt ready to do it all over again the next morning.
Better than a wave though, is a dollar or two to show Jean that you are behind his mission, and the mission of mental health awareness in New Zealand.

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