FOUR Stratford teenagers have taken the plunge and begun to swim the English Channel to bank cash for local charity Young Minds Matter (YMM).
Eitan Darmon, Joe Deavall, Hayden North and Brian Mcsharry, who have an average age of just 16, are swimming the 26 miles from England to France in relay fashion this week, driven by their empathy for young people’s mental health.
The quartet began swimming on Monday (July 11) and are scheduled to finish on Wednesday July 20.
Young Minds Matter was formed in 2017 after beginning as an awareness and fundraising concert before becoming a registered charity early in 2020. The YMM mentoring service launched in 2020, with trained mentors going into secondary schools and providing free 1:1 mentoring support for any young person.
Joe, the team’s 17-year-old captain, told The Observer: “The training for the swim has been difficult both physically and mentally, especially having to adapt to the cold and the sea. I’m really excited to get going and raise lots of money for a brilliant charity like Young Minds Matter. I know the donations made will make a huge difference to young people and raise awareness for their mental health as well”.
While 18-year-old Brian added: ‘I am taking on this challenge as I have always wanted to swim the English channel and YMM is such a worthy course. We are hoping to complete this challenge in 12 hrs however it will depend on whether the tide is in our favour. The service YMM provides helps so many young people. YMM provides mental health mentoring within schools across Warwickshire.
“As we all know mental health is a growing issue and the money raised will be used to support the teenagers who need it. Despite being a daunting challenge I am very excited and confident that as a team we will rise to the challenge. Our preparations over the past few months have not only physically prepared us with acclimatization but mentally prepared us for the challenge ahead”.
YMM’s founder Sue said: ‘For almost 3 yrs I’ve been planning this channel swim but Covid prevented us from doing this earlier. I feel so proud of these four teenagers who have given up so much of their free time in the last year to train for this challenge – on top of GCSE and AS level exams, driving lessons, part time jobs, training in the pool five to six times a week plus competing in galas for their swimming clubs and six hour round trips to complete sea training.
“Their focus and commitment has been amazing and they genuinely care about being able to support their peers and any other young person who is struggling with their mental health”.
The teenagers aim to bank £15,000 for YMM and all cash raised will go towards training and providing more mentors in schools.
To donate visit their JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ymmchannelswim