The founder of a new local kindness initiative will be in an elephant suit at a Newcastle beach on World Kindness Day (November 13).
Michelle Boundy, Merewether resident and founder of Be Kind Newcastle, will be talking to people about kindness and her new mental health initiative – The Elephant in the Room.
Ms Boundy launched Be Kind Newcastle at her engagement party in October with The Elephant in the Room as its first project. As it was Mental Health Month, she wanted to shine a light on the kindness of Lifeline’s 131114 volunteer crisis supporters in offering people hope and preventing suicide in the community.
She said the initiative struck a chord in the community, raising $25,000 for Lifeline Hunter to train and support seven more local 13 11 14 crisis supporters.
“The response was so amazing we are continuing the project this year,” Ms Boundy said.
“Our Elephant in the Room mental health initiative aims to reduce the stigma of mental health within our community and encourage early help seeking through organisations such as Lifeline,” she said.
“Lifeline Hunter urgently needs 20 new crisis supporters to keep up with a more than 20 per cent increase in calls for support. It costs $3,500 to train and support one crisis supporter so we need $70,000 to meet the target of 20.”
On Sunday November 13 Ms Boundy will walking between Merewether and Dixon Surf Life Saving clubs from 8am to 10am in her elephant suit talking to the community about kindness and how displaying acts of kindness can change lives and our communities.
Ms Boundy is encouraging people, as families, community groups or work teams, to come together to talk about good mental health and the role kindness can play.
“Being kind to each other, especially to people experiencing mental ill health, can make a positive difference to people’s lives."
“Any donation people can make to get more crisis supporters is welcome. Teams may like to come together and have their own kindness event. If they can raise $3,500, they will enable a kind Lifeline volunteer to help make sure no call to 13 11 14 goes unanswered.”
Ms Boundy was Newcastle’s community kindness champion for the Stay Kind Foundation. Her initiatives such as the 50 Walks Project, Bathers Way 50 Challenge and 50 Hearts Project promoted the value of acts of kindness in everyday life. Be Kind Newcastle is her new vehicle to continue promoting kindness, with a focus on young people in Newcastle and the Hunter. It is an enabling vehicle to kindness, rather than a charity itself, which will support charities and projects that promote kindness.
“Through Be Kind Newcastle we will undertake community projects each year to make our communities kinder and reduce bullying, violence, self-harm, and suicide among young Australians and the wider community.”