YOUNG victims of abuse or teenagers in harrowing circumstances will tackle a 10-mile race for charity and are urging the public to join them at Barbury Castle.
The group have already embarked on an strenuous training regime for the SMASH Dash for Cash on Sunday, September 7 around the Wroughton landmark and are hoping many fundraisers will follow their example to allow youngsters just like them to receive valuable mentoring and support.
Since 1999, the SMASH Youth Project has helped more than 1,000 young people fulfill their potential in Swindon by matching them with a volunteer mentor.
The organisation will need to raise £120,000 by next year in order to cover its running costs.
Luke Withington, 17, of Toothill was matched with one of the charity’s mentors two and half years ago. Since then he has become a SMASH trustee and a spokesman for the organisation. He is one of the many youngsters preparing for the challenge in September.
“The charity helped me come out of my comfort zone and I got the help I needed to get my own problems sorted,” he said.
“I was diagnosed with depression after they helped me out and it turns out I had had it for four years without knowing it. They taught me not to give up on myself.
“I want to help give back some of the help they’ve given me. The service they provide is astounding and I am a living, breathing success story.”
Charley Bean, 17, of Walcot, will be joining Luke on the day.
“I have had a mentor for almost a year and they make you believe in yourself,” she said. “Mentors give you the chance to feel appreciated and feel like you are someone rather than a nobody. It has made a massive difference to my confidence. I was struggling a lot to find myself and what I wanted to do. I didn’t have the motivation to do well or make myself happy. I would gladly do any event to support SMASH. Why not help support them in the way they supported us?”
While most contestants, such as keen runner Abdulkareem Musa-Adam, 17, are expected to get around on foot, bikes and even horses are welcome.
“I moved from Sudan to the UK two years ago,” he said. “My mentor helped me with my English, reading and writing. He helped me make friends. I am happy now and I want to give back.”
Participants will receive awards for highest sponsorship, first person and team to complete the course, oldest and youngest person or team to finish in style. All prizes will be donated by Nuffield Health.
The event will start at the Alexander Conference centre near Wroughton at 9 am, where contestants will be waved off with a smile and a bacon sandwich. To register or find out more about becoming a mentor go to smashyouthproject.co.uk.