Belfast Telegraph

Selfless Newtownards teen Katie completes 297-mile walk for suicide prevention

By Staff Reporter

A Newtownards teenager has completed a 297-mile sponsored walk in memory of the same number of people who took their own lives in Northern Ireland last year.

Katie Graden (17), a sixth form student at Glenlola Collegiate, devoted two months to completing the milestone effort and yesterday she handed over a cheque for the £1,051 raised to Action Mental Health.

The presentation took place  at Stormont, supported by MLAs from across the political divide.

Katie explained her motivation for the mammoth achievement.

“I cherish my community and want to do everything I can to help anyone who is suffering an episode of poor mental health,” she said.

“Anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts are far too common these days and I wanted to play my part in supporting the fantastic work of Action Mental Health.” The fundraising initiative is an extension of Katie’s proposal for a mental health pupil leadership team for schools here.

She added: “Students should be shown how to deal with panic attacks, self-harm and students experiencing suicidal thoughts in particular, just like students are trained in first aid.

“I have delivered my proposal to the Department of Education and the All Party Group on Mental Health.

“We are currently waiting for the results from an international research report carried out by Stormont’s research team, and today I am pleased so many politicians from so many parties were here to support me.

“I am hopeful of securing a one-year pilot scheme and I have already had interest from Glenlola Collegiate, Lagan College and the School of Engineering at Queen’s University.

“If any other schools are interested, please contact me via email, katie.graden@yahoo.co.uk.”

Belfast Telegraph

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