Hailing a young fighter for mental health

Kayla Shelbourne pictured beside a fence adorned in ribbons representative of the lives lost to suicide, done at the annual Suicide Prevention Walk. Photo Angel Daire.
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Suicide prevention advocate Kayla Shelbourne was rewarded for her contribution to the community. Angel Daire reports.

Young Citizen Of The Year and local hero Kayla Shelbourne has been recognised for her efforts in generating awareness for suicide prevention through the creation of multiple organisations.

“Since starting her own non for profit organisation ‘For Kids By Kids’ at the age of 16, Kayla Shelbourne has worked to break down stigma around youth mental health and prevent suicide in the community,” said the Mornington Peninsula Shire.

“For me the award is reflective of the whole team’s efforts,” said Miss Shelbourne.

A close friend and colleague nominated Miss Shelbourne for the award without her knowledge.

“I got the call when I was on my way back [from South Africa] at Singapore airport saying that I’d been nominated and won” said Miss Shelbourne.

The award was presented by the Mornington Peninsula Shire at a citizenship ceremony in January 2019.

“It would not have happened without everybody else,” said Miss Shelbourne.

At 16 Miss Shelbourne and others organised an art auction to raise money for local mental health services. 

With help from one of her teachers at Mount Erin College, their group was able to get connected with Tim from Frankston Arts Centre who’s job is connecting mental health with the arts.

From there the group founded the non-for-profit organisation For Kids By Kids and started events such as the annual Suicide Prevention Walk in Mornington.

Kayla Shelbourne speaking at the citizenship ceremony after being presented with her award. Photo Adrian Shelbourne.

Miss Shelbourne was motivated to start this organisation as a way to help “friends that were suicidal and dealing with mental health issues.”

For Kids By Kids was later dissolved, its members “parting ways.”

Miss Shelbourne started up a new organisation called Chasing Change with colleagues from her job at Headspace, another mental health organisation.

Chasing Change now has a team of 20 who meet monthly in Mornington to coordinate events such as “art auctions and some more training for the community and eduction.”

Having recently recruited “about ten new people,” anyone can get involved in helping Chasing Change.

“Almost all of our members have a lived experience of suicide […] whether they’ve survived an attempt themselves or supported someone or lost someone, we really value lived experience” said Miss Shelbourne.

Since being recognised, Chasing Change has received immense support from the Mornington Peninsula shire in the organisation of their annual events.

“They provide so much for us” said Miss Shelbourne.

There could be some flipping around? Don’t leave the active org until the end ?