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Campaign scores important wins

Wairarapa-based campaign What About You? [WAY] has got the ball firmly over the tryline in its efforts to assist community organisations in tackling mental wellbeing.

The campaign focuses on addressing alcohol and drug-related issues and promoting mental wellbeing in Wairarapa through carefully placed and worded signs, as well as providing resources for those who may be struggling.

Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union [WBRU] partnered with the WAY campaign in 2019 after several events made the organisation realise its responsibilities involve “more than just rugby”.

Times-Age sat down to speak with some of the WAY campaign team.

Catherine Sands-Wearing said the campaign has been well received by the WBRU team.

“Amongst the wider rugby community [players, coaches, supporters], there’s a really high awareness of the campaign,” she said.

The WAY campaign focuses on providing resources to those who need them but found that, while awareness of the campaign was high, some people still didn’t know where to go for support.

“We really worked on that this year, and we’ve seen that data actually increased,” Sands-Wearing said.

Part of working with WBRU also involved promoting zero-alcohol options and hydration before drinking, as well as drinking with your teammates rather than in isolation.

“They’ve been replacing alcohol sponsorship with ‘watch out for your mates’ and campaign messaging,” WAY’s Kathryn Tomlinson said.

WBRU chief executive Tony Hargood couldn’t speak more highly of the campaign, saying he’s very impressed with its success.

“There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that it is making a difference,” he said.

Hargood’s hope is that the players are comfortable to speak up if there are ever any issues that pop up.

“If things aren’t right, just ask and we’re there,” he said.

The WAY campaign has also enjoyed success at events such as Toast Martinborough and will continue its promotions at this year’s festival.

“We’re very much behind the scenes, facilitating and supporting and connecting people and helping to make it easy for them to be involved,” Sands-Wearing said.

The campaign has been so successful that the WAY team have travelled to other regions to share its approach with other groups, including as far afield as Southland.

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