Mental health advocate, cycling enthusiast and public speaker Vaughan McVilly is on a mission with his best pal Gilly, a border collie, to sign you up to a 30-day dog walking challenge and help change the state of mental and physical health in Australia for two and four-legged friends and family.
The WALK4PAWS Mental Health March will kickstart at the 2022 Dog Lovers Show in Sydney (6-7 August) and anyone who signs up during the show has a chance to win one of two seven-night couples retreats in Fiji, each valued at over $5000.
As a Board member of the Mental WheelsFoundation (MWF) charity which focuses on changing lives by improving mental health in Australia, McVilly co-founded the WALK4PAWS initiative to raise $1 million and save 1000 dogs from shelters to become therapy dogs for people with mental health adversities.
Since Nov 2021, WALK4PAWS has raised more than $11,300 for mental health research and programs to make a real positive impact on mental health in Australia.
“This year Aussies have continued to face challenges including COVID, unemployment and floods,” McVilly said.
“We are determined to motivate people to continue or start the dog walking challenge to improve the mental and physical state of themselves and their dogs. And we are here to help them all the way.”
Dog lovers can also accept the 30-day dog walking challenge from anywhere in Australia at any time by registering for free on the Walk4Paws website.
“Research shows that walking improves physical fitness— reducing obesity—and mental health in both people and their pets,” MWF co-founder Gareth Pike said.
“Our main goal is to take 1000 dogs from animal shelters and, in partnership with MindDog, train them to be service dogs and paired with a person suffering from mental health adversities in a 12-month program that delivers amazing results.”