Former Broncos star and Queensland State of Origin legend Justin Hodges has teamed up with leading children’s charity Life Education Queensland to kickstart a new fundraising challenge to help stamp out bullying.
The former Broncos captain is an ambassador for Beyond the Broncos, an indigenous mentoring program that engages students from Years 10 – 12 to support their education and inspire young people to set and achieve goals for their future.
But this week, the Broncos idol took time out from his busy schedule to visit Suncorp Stadium and help another famous ambassador Healthy Harold, warm up for his biggest challenge yet – the Healthy Harold Hundred.
The event urges Queenslanders to walk, run or ride 100ks in 20 days, between May 5 – May 24, to help raise funds for Life Education’s program in schools, especially the charity’s respectful relationships modules.
With his passion for inspiring youth, Justin says the event’s bullying cause is close to his heart.
“Bullying can have a huge impact on someone’s life, and make coming to school very difficult,” Justin said.
“Life Education is an iconic program in Queensland schools, and the way they are teaching children about respect both online and face to face is going a long way towards making schools a safe and supportive environment.
“I’d urge anyone who can do the Healthy Harold Hundred challenge to sign up, because it’s a fun way to get fitter while also helping to make a big difference to Queensland kids.”
Life Education Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt said the initial response to the charity’s new Healthy Harold Hundred campaign had been phenomenal with more than 800 people registering so far.
“It’s great to have the support of a sporting icon like Justin and it’s never been more important to shine the spotlight on the issue of bullying and respect,” Mr Fawsitt said.
“Sadly, one in four Aussie kids is affected by bullying, one in five children experiences cyberbullying, and more than a million children are affected by domestic violence.
“At Life Education, we work with schools all over the state to help educate children about making safe and healthy choices, and as part of that program, we focus on empowering young people to build and maintain positive, healthy and respectful relationships.”
Funds raised from the Healthy Harold Hundred will directly support Life Education Queensland’s education sessions that focus on social and emotional learning, including bullying prevention and respectful relationships.
“Whether you’re a family, work team, or an individual, and whether you sign up to do 100ks, 200 or even 300, your support is going to make a huge difference and boost our capacity to take our program where it’s needed most,” Mr Fawsitt said.
Bribie Island mother and daughter Kate Maroulis and Lily Guy, 5, have already signed up for the challenge and are looking forward to the event’s May 5 kick off.
“From what I see on social media, there are so many parents talking about bullying at various schools,” Ms Maroulis said.
“It concerns me that children who are bullied are more likely to experience depressive symptoms, and there is also a link between bullying others at school and aggressive behaviour as adults. The work that Life Education is doing to break that cycle is so important.”
Kate has set an ambitious target of 200 kilometres for her Healthy Harold Hundred while Lily plans to join in after school.
“I’m excited to be involved in the challenge and Lily is looking forward to taking part as well,” Kate said. “Lily told her teacher, ‘I’m going to be doing a lot of walking to get rid of all the bullies in all the schools!’”
To register for Life Education Queensland’s Healthy Harold Hundred and to find out more about the cause here.