Riders travel 2500km for mental health

Last updated 11:03 29/11/2012
Aidee Walker and Tamzin Hawkins
OUT OF THE BLUE: charity bike riders Aidee Walker, right, and Tamzin Hawkins at the end of the ride.

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Actress Aidee Walker has used pedal power to create greater awareness about suicide and depression in New Zealand.

Ride out of the Blue 2012, was a fundraising cycling challenge that took riders 2500km from Bluff to Cape Reinga.

Aidee's participation was fuelled by her compassion for those with mental illness.

She has experienced anxiety herself and says "awareness was her main aim" as she rode the length of New Zealand with nine other core riders in 21 days.

They stopped in 42 towns across the country raising awareness about suicide prevention.

Seeing the country on a bicycle was "an awesome experience" and with only one minor spill at 50kmh she sings high praises of Northland.

"Northland felt very real, very different from anywhere else we went, we felt it from Dargaville onwards, and being able to address students in Kaitaia High School was important to us," she says.

New Zealand's record of dealing with mental health issues has been seen as wanting and Ride out of the Blue is trying to bring the subject out in the open.

"Not talking about it isn't working" Aidee says. And although she says she is now "damn fit" that wasn't the aim.

The 31-year-old, best known as Outrageous Fortune villain Draska, says: "We are all inextricably linked so the fact that New Zealand has a high rate of suicide and depression means that it's my problem, as much as it's yours and Joe's next door.

"The ride has served as a great opportunity for all of us involved to really see what capacity we have as humans, to push the boundaries and realise how much we can actually achieve," Aidee says.

All proceeds from Ride Out of the Blue 2012 go to the Mental Health Foundation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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