Friday 24 January 2020

Sisters start Floss campaign for mental health awareness

Ava and Amber Newport
Ava and Amber Newport

Esther Hayden

Sisters Ava and Amber Newport have launched a Flossing campaign to raise awareness of mental health.

The young sisters from Broadway were both astounded and outraged that their 12-year-old cousin from Wexford who is battling anxiety had to go on two different mental health waiting lists in a bid to access services. As a result they started a campaign based on the popular Floss dance crazy that is sweeping through the nation.

In a letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Ava (11) and Amber (9) said how they had started the campaign because they have 'someone very special' to them 'that is experiencing challenges in their live of 12 years of age. We have become aware of how these challenges and the lack of much needed services have impacted on this child and their family.

'We came up with the idea of creating more awareness for children who suffer with their mental health. This idea is because there are no enough, if any, places and services for children who suffer with their mental health issues.

'Our campaign is called Floss which is a popular dance among children and adults for fun. We have created a meaning for Floss based on our campaign  - Forget Limitations, Offer Support Services. Floss is an action based dance and we are asking you to use actions instead of words to combat kids' mental health issues. Sincerely Ava and Amber Newport.'

At the end of the letter they wrote: 'We would like this letter presented to Mr Varadkar as this important topic affects me and all the children in Ireland'.

Sarah Newport who is the mother of the two girls said the campaign started when Ava and Amber realised that their 12-year-old cousin had to go on one waiting list to access a psychiatrist which he now has after a period of hospitalisation but needed to go on a second list to get a diagnosis which will ultimately allow him access extra supports.

'They were amazed with this because they said if you go into hospital with a broken finger you get it treated and the treatment continues until you no longer require it. Here they saw their cousin going on one list, then go on another list to get a diagnosis.

'They said they wanted do something for mental health awareness and they started writing the letter. I thought they just wanted to put something down on paper to get the frustration out of their system.

'But at the second protest at Slaney House they came with me and we were talking to other families who had children who, like their cousin, were affected with mental health issues and were using the psychiatric services and accessing people like Kieran Moore.

'When we went home they came up with the idea of the Floss campaign and raising awareness for Wexford Mental Health Warriors so that their message could reach a wider audience.

'From speaking to people at the protest they couldn't believe how badly some children are affected. They were astounded by the number of children who were accessing the services but had been brave enough to come out and protest.'

Sarah said neither she or her husband Ken can believe the traction the campaign has already gained. 'The video of Ava's testimonial has already received almost 20,000 views from places as far away as America. People are sharing it daily.'

'We are super proud of them. Ava has always been really mature and Amber is always listening to her and supporting her.'

Both girls attend Scoil Mhuire in Broadway with Ava going into fifth class while Amber will go into fourth in September. Sarah said that following on from the letter and the Floss campaign the sisters have now organised a Flossing event on Carne Beach on Saturday, August 12, at midday, where everyone came come and Floss for mental health awareness.

She said that bus driver Mick Stamp has offered to bus people from Wexford town who are interested in taking part in Floss for Mental Health to Carne Beach free of charge and said anyone who wanted to help should contact her. Sarah said she herself had taken part in an event for the Ask campaign which was started by Cllr Frank Staples. 'Frank has been absolutely fantastic since they started their campaign. He has really spurred them on helping in whatever way he can. He has been a brilliant support.'

Wexford People

Most Read