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Young walkers take on the Camino for Pieta House

A GROUP of five young East Clare people and their youth leader Mieke McMahon are to trace the footsteps of pilgrims on a 780km walk along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The group, made up of young women aged between 17 and 18 of Fishbowl Youth accompanied by their youth leader will do the Camino walk as a fundraiser for Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide.

Initially, one of the members had walked part of the Camino and this formed the basis of a discussion around the possibility of the group doing the walk and then after looking at financing, it was decided to do it as a fundraiser.

Speaking about the trip, Rowen Bedford a member of Fishbowl Youth from Tuamgraney, said, “We all talked about it, we never thought it would go ahead and then we started planning and we thought it would be better if we did it for a charity. We thought about what has happened in our own community and that this charity would mean something.” 

There are two of the group who will walk the full 780km, a trek that will take them up to six weeks to complete walking in or around 20 to 30km per day. Meanwhile, some will spend three weeks and others four weeks along the route.

“Every week, we go on a group walk together with back packs with us. I’m really excited and now that it’s just two weeks away, it’s getting more real,” Rowen continued.

The members of Fishbowl Youth will depart on June 25, taking seven to 10 kilos of clothes and supplies with them. They will carry their gear with them along the route and will be staying in budget accommodation as they continue on their way.

As they will be faced down by the Mediterranean sun, the six will be rising at 5am each morning to complete their walking quota before the midday sun is upon them. They have been training hard to build up momentum for the journey. The first three days will be all uphill climbs as they begin in the Pyrenees but the route levels out after that.

Fishbowl leaders are trained in suicide awareness and there was a feeling this year that everyone in the group knows somebody in the community who has been affected by suicide.

“It has come very close. It is like an epidemic. Anything that builds awareness of suicide and self-harm is a good thing. We are aware of certain amounts of young people who go through difficult times, such as eating disorders or self-harm and anything that helps with awareness is worth doing. This fundraiser is one of their choice,” Alan McMahon, a Fishbowl Leader, said.

His wife, Mieke, who is going on the trip explained, “Even in our small rural area, we have very high suicide rates, across all ages and genders. There is very little support out here for people who experience depression or mental health issues.”

The youth group is asking locals to help them create support by visiting www.mycharity.ie/event/fishbowlpietacaminowalk.


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