Blair launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of, and combat, mental health by skateboarding the entire length of New Zealand. Blair’s campaign, Ride Against Depression (RAD), sees him skate approximately 3000 kilometres across the country, beginning at the bottom of Stewart Island and finishing at Cape Reinga in Northland. Blairs’s only means of transport during his campaign will be his specially-designed Ride Against Depression skateboard, which he created himself with wood donated by Dave North from Nelson Creek Skateboards.
He will traverse New Zealand, speaking at local schools and connecting with skate communities in different towns and cities, in order as to share his story about his battle with mental health and to encourage an open discussion about mental health and wellbeing. As part of the campaign, Benefield is aiming to raise $150,000 for youth mental health, suicide prevention, and community support services.
After serving in Afghanistan, Blair was medically discharged from the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment four years ago with severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Speaking of his journey with mental health, Blair says, “I lost my purpose in life just like a lot of people suffering from mental illness. I tried many of the treatments; anti-depressants, counselling, group therapy but nothing seemed to work. I became anti-social, uncontactable, withdrawn and eventually suicidal. When the thought of my life ending was no longer terrifying, but relieving, I understood how it felt to lose the will to live.”
A keen skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder and all-round outdoorsman, Blair is an avid adventurer. While addressing his mental health issues, he found solace outdoors in the water and on his skateboard. It’s these hobbies, he says, which helped drag him out of the deep, dark hole of depression.
“Skating has always been my passion and my therapy. It makes me feel good, it’s great exercise, and it’s fun and creative,” Blair says. “Just like all physical activities and sports, skateboarding can also teach you the power of perseverance and strengthen your mind because the pleasure it gives you outweighs the pain. Like when you fall off your board and hit the concrete it hurts. But you get up and try again determined to land your trick, because the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment you get when you achieve something outweighs the pain.”
We're delighted and very proud to be working with Blair and helping him raise awareness for such an important and fantastic campaign.
Blair has a Givealittle page where supporters can donate. All money raised will be donated to No Duff Charitable Trust, Youthline and Good Neighbour Trust.
To donate to Blair’s campaign, visit his Givealittle page: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/ride-against-depression-rad