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Call them gumboots, rain boots, wellingtons or wellies, but the purpose is the same! These little rubber boots offer waterproof action that allows for walks in the muddy muck that often comes with wet weather. 

Gumboots aren’t really meant for wearing inside and they aren’t necessarily the most comfortable footwear. But the founder of Gumboot Friday, New Zealand mental health advocate Mike King, says that mental health issues like depression are kind of like walking in the mud. So this event was started to raise awareness about and support for the underfunded mental health needs of young people.

History of Gumboot Friday

Gumboot Friday was first celebrated in 2019 when Mike King was looking for a way to raise funds to support the under-resourced mental health needs of kids in New Zealand. Tired of dealing with the long wait lists for youth needing help, King founded, I Am Hope, a free counseling service for young people in the country up to age 25.

Since its founding, I Am Hope has made it possible for young people to have thousands of counseling conversations (more than 83,000!), many of which have probably saved the life of a youth. The hope for the day is to continue to raise funds to help keep the youth of New Zealand talking.

I Am Hope is financed through various fundraising efforts, including the idea of offering opportunities for kids or adults to pay a dollar to wear gumboots to work or school. Gumboot Friday has an official annual date, but organizations, schools or companies who want to participate on another Friday throughout the year are certainly welcome to! It’s all for the good cause of providing counseling and mental health care to young people.

How to Celebrate Gumboot Friday

Support the mental health needs of young kiwis by getting involved with I Am Hope and Gumboot Friday, starting with some of these plans or activities:

Host a Gumboot Friday Event

Teachers, school administrators, employment managers and special events coordinators can all make a difference in the lives of young people by arranging to host Gumboot Friday events. Folks in New Zealand who are hosting events to raise funds for the charity can go to the website to list their event as part of the larger participation.  Those who don’t have an event to attend but still want to help can make a donation year around through the website. 

Have a Conversation about Mental Health

Gumboot Friday is not only an important way to show support for raising funds, but it can also be a good time to raise awareness about the need for mental health support. It is important to normalize reaching out and to reduce the shame that might come along with seeking help for depression or other concerns.

Wear I AM HOPE Merchandise

It might be fun to show support for Gumboot Friday by getting some merch to help start conversations. The I Am Hope store offers shirts, hats, pins, socks, bracelets, calendars – and, of course, gumboots – as a way of raising financial support and getting the word out through awareness.

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