The Push-Up Challenge’s Student Ambassador Program is breaking ground as one of the leading national mental health student ambassador initiatives in Australia. Made possible by funds raised for Push for Better Foundation during The Push-Up Challenge, the Student Ambassador Program gives students across Australia the opportunity to lead a push for better mental health in their school community.
Unfortunately, research shows that one in seven young people aged 4 to 17 experience a mental health condition in any given year – so it's our mission to reduce the stigma associated with mental ill-health, help students be more proactive about supporting their mental wellbeing, and empower them to seek help if they need it. Our Student Ambassador Program is making an impact on the mental health of young people.
Record numbers in 2023
This year we equipped over 500 Student Ambassadors with the resources and support to lead their fellow students and teachers in The Push-Up Challenge 2023. Rapid year-on-year growth saw this year’s program hosting Student Ambassadors from every state and territory in Australia for the first time, with a record 339 schools signing up for the student leadership program in 2023.
Students doing good
This year’s Student Ambassadors were tasked with motivating their school’s students and staff to complete The Push-Up Challenge from 1-23 June. The challenge: 3,144 push-ups over 23 days, in honour of the lives tragically lost to suicide in 2021. Participants were encouraged to get fit, connect and have fun, all while learning about mental health.
Each year, we’re inspired by the incredible young people in our Student Ambassador program who showcase creative ways to encourage participation and open all-important conversations around mental health. This year’s Student Ambassadors created gratitude boards to display around schools, integrated our daily Mental Health Facts into daily school notices, designed mental health posters, talked about mental health at assemblies, invited guest speakers in, set up inter-house competitions and held push-up-offs between students and staff. We also saw prefects from multiple schools band together to create brilliant social media content promoting The Push-Up Challenge – and of course, set up a little healthy competition between schools.
Many Student Ambassadors opt to fundraise in addition to leading their peers in completing daily push-up targets. Many a sausage sizzle and free-dress day was held around Australia in June to raise funds for mental health – and one enterprising school even struck a partnership deal with the local gym, whereby every student who signed up to the Challenge scored a free gym session.
Check out the crew from John XXIII College in Perth getting together for some push-ups in the sunshine:
Mental Health Awareness Training
A cornerstone of our Student Ambassador program is the Mental Health Awareness Training offered to all Ambassadors. This comprises an interactive, online mental health awareness workshop pre-event, facilitated by a Registered Psychologist and Mental Health Trainer. We are proud to offer this valuable opportunity for students to gain tools and knowledge that equips them to have conversations around mental health with their peers.
This year’s Student Ambassadors said the training increased their mental health literacy and helped them become more aware of their own mental health, as well as how to practice self-care. They also reported that the Mental Health Awareness Training left them feeling equipped with the skills to support peers who may be experiencing anxiety or depression. Students reflected that the workshop helped them to confidently talk with friends and their school community about mental health, with a primary focus on learning to ‘listen.’
What students said
Following The Push-Up Challenge 2023, we surveyed over 150 students who completed our Mental Health Awareness Training. Of those:
- 99.4% increased their knowledge about mental health
- 99.4% improved their confidence in talking about mental health with their peers
- 99.4% developed skills to initiate a chat with someone who may be experiencing a mental health challenge
- 97.4% said the workshop made them more aware of their own mental health and how to practice self-care
“Thank you so much for all your support throughout my experience being a Student Ambassador. The meetings and everything to support us as young people have truly been so incredible. I have definitely noticed a positive difference in my mental health and wellbeing. Thank you with all of my heart!” - Jessica, Santa Maria College Victoria
“The Push-Up Challenge has made extremely valuable advancements in my peers’ ability to have those hard, vulnerable conversations in a really casual but effective way. For the senior students, it’s provided an outlet for stress and important reminders to look after ourselves mentally and physically. After reading the daily facts, or getting down to do 10 in class, I found myself have some really meaningful and vulnerable conversations with my teachers and mates. As student ambassadors, bringing The-Push Up Challenge to St Bede’s is definitely one of the most proud parts of the legacy that we will leave behind, and we are so excited to see how it continues to break down the stigma’s surrounding mental to make our school a more fun, sensitive and inclusive community.” - Dylan Collins, St Bede’s College
Push for Better Foundation’s Student Ambassador Program supported the participation of a record 31,200 school participants in The Push-Up Challenge 2023, which was an increase of 84% on 2022. Growing popularity and awareness of the program saw over 500 Student Ambassadors lead the way in bringing Australia’s biggest mental health and fitness event into schools. In total, schools raised $1,103,522 for mental health in 2023. These funds are on their way to making real change thanks to our three beneficiaries; Lifeline, Movember and Push for Better Foundation, who channel funds raised into crucial mental health programs and services.
Check out the crew from The Hutchins School in Tasmania smashing out some mass push-ups on the school oval:
Continuing the push for better
We’re committed to utilising funds raised for Push for Better Foundation during The Push-Up Challenge to nurture and grow our Student Ambassador Program. As the leading mental health Student Ambassador Program in Australia, the potential within this initiative is boundless. It is our mission to continue building our Student Ambassador Program as a powerful vehicle for nurturing student resilience, reducing stigma around mental health challenges and ultimately, making better long-term mental health outcomes a priority for young people across Australia.