Back to Our Heroes You are reading: zero2hero Marks A Decade
15th November 2023 | Read Time: 4 minutes

zero2hero Marks A Decade

This month, zero2hero is celebrating 10 years of making a difference to the Western Australian community, empowering more than 220,000 young people through mental health and suicide prevention education.

Our CEO Ashlee Harrison says she is incredibly proud of the impact zero2hero has made in the past decade, and looks forward to continuing to build on its successes to help even more young people in the next 10 years.

Born out of the tragedy of losing her stepfather to suicide, Ashlee founded zero2hero with a mission to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people – well before they reach crisis point, and to prevent suicide in Australia.

In 2013, zero2hero launched its very first program; zero2hero Day, at three WA high schools. Soon after, we hosted our first ever Camp Hero program, welcoming 27 young heroes to our 5-day leadership camp.

Today, through a wide range of innovative school programs, leadership camps and fundraising events, we educate, engage and empower thousands of young people each year, in the hope of positively impacting the critical suicide rates in Australia.

“I know that suicide will take more young people than anything else. In Australia, we tragically lose one young person to suicide every day,” Ashlee said.

“There is no cure, so the best thing we can do as a society and as an organisation is to prevent anyone even getting there. Our purpose is to equip young people to be able to manage the ups and downs of life. We don’t for a second think that the downs won’t exist because of us. We do, though, believe that with what we teach young people they’ll be able to handle those downs and be able to navigate them a lot better than they would have without us.”

Research shows that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first present in people under the age of 25, so early intervention and creating supportive communities is paramount.

Ashlee set up zero2hero with the hope that no one else would feel the pain and suffering her family endured in the lead-up and after the loss of her stepfather.

“I don’t want any teenager to feel how I felt, and as unsupported as I felt as a teenager. So, I had to be part of the solution,” she said.

“I can hand on heart say that because of our programs, because of our work in the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of young people are now better supported to support themselves.”

Last year alone, zero2hero engaged with 28,191 young people, trained 218 students in suicide prevention, provided 16,075 students with mental health education and reached 244 WA high schools.

When thinking about the future, Ashlee shared that zero2hero aim to will continue to build on our resounding statewide impact, grow our hugely successful Camp Hero program, and explore program expansion into early childhood education over the next decade.

“We’ve got a strong commitment to working in every WA high school and we’re starting to move towards also working in every primary school in WA,” she said.

“The education around mental health needs to start earlier because the rates of illness are getting younger, so any preventative measures need to be ahead of that.”

In addition, zero2hero has actively been fundraising towards the purchase of its own camp site to help facilitate more camp programs and diversify income streams, and will also examine opportunities to engage in alternative, holistic mental health care for young people.

“What we are finding is that there’s just not mental health care for young people in WA that use a range of nature therapies – unplugging and unwinding. I want to create something that’s an alternative, something that offers treatment but also gives young people more agency in their care. It could use equine therapy, or garden therapy, or surf therapy, but would be immersed in nature and would be holistic in the way we treat diet and movement.”

We’d like to thank all our partners, sponsors and donors who have contributed generously to zero2hero over the past decade.

“We could not do this without the backing of all of our partners, sponsors or donors, and we are so grateful for all their support and confidence in what we are doing to effect change. If all of our work and effort in the last decade has saved just one young person, and their family from the heartache of losing someone to suicide, then it was all worth it.”

To celebrate a successful decade, we have released limited edition 10th anniversary merchandise. All profits will go towards supporting our mental health programs. Sales end midnight November 19th, 2023. Shop here.

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