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Braving the cold: The ZOOP Network’s ‘9 for 9’ challenge

July 26, 2021

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These bunch of mates from Melbourne are putting their minds and bodies to the test in the ‘9 for 9’ challenge!

From 1-29 August, legends from The ZOOP Network will brave the arctic waters of Port Phillip Bay for 9 minutes every day, for 29 days to raise awareness of the 9 Australians that die by suicide each day (3,318 each year).

ZOOP co-founder Connor spoke to batyr about being vulnerable when it comes to engaging in conversations around mental health and getting psyched up to take the plunge.

Tell us a little about yourself, your mental health journey, and The ZOOP Network

Initially, (ZOOP co-founder) Jerome and I started a challenge with each other, after finally admitting the depths of my depression to Jerome and further voicing the fact I had been contemplating taking my own life. Jerome had an idea that would keep us in constant contact by using goal-setting and accountability to create good habits that he knew I would benefit from. After a few weeks of this challenge, we started to feel the physical and mental benefits and got our other friends involved. We started to notice a great sense of connection and vulnerability between friends whom they hadn’t been in too much contact with since university. Watch more.

Our goal is to create a platform/community that enables even more people to celebrate not only their wins but also their losses. A platform/community that aids people in creating healthy habits that can positively impact their mental health. 

What are you hoping to achieve with the ‘9 for 9’ challenge?

Around 9 Australians die by suicide each day; that’s a total of 3,318 people each year. It’s an alarming statistic that highlights the importance of raising awareness of mental ill-health.

We want to be open and vulnerable at the mental challenge we are going to face in order to highlight that it’s okay not to be okay and there is no shame in speaking out. In so doing, we hope to encourage people to create an open, honest and positive environment so we all have the confidence to open up and be vulnerable.

What drew you to batyr’s work?

When we discussed this challenge with the founder of the Sandringham Icebergers, they mentioned an awesome charity called batyr. We immediately resonated with batyr’s preventative measures to instill education and empowerment to children and their families at an early age; something we all agreed that we wished we had in school. 

After meeting some of the batyr crew, we realised how both The ZOOP Network and batyr were striving for the same goal; to educate people on mental-ill health and create platforms/communities that are judgment-free whilst promoting positivity and vulnerability.

How are you and the ZOOP gang getting prepared for the icy swim next month?

Both my mate, Toddy, and I have been relatively consistent with taking cold showers over the last 6-12 months. I only take 30-second cold showers whereas Toddy manages a much greater feat. In all honesty, I absolutely hate cold water. It feels like a chore to jump in the water throughout summer, never mind the middle of winter!

We do not feel ready at all but our main strategy is connectedness. We feel like if we have each other’s back and try to support each other each day of the challenge we will manage a lot better. Plus, the idea of hot chocolates and mulled wine following a dip will be spurring us on!

Good on ya boys! To get behind Connor and The ZOOP Network’s ‘9 for 9’ challenge, you can make a donation here.