The journey started with a nomination.

A nomination to do 25 push-ups for 25 days – a challenge to raise awareness for mental health, anxiety and depression. It’s a challenge that you have may seen doing the rounds on social media in different circles around the world. If you search the hashtag, #25PushUpChallenge, you will see the variety of contributions.

Before Carel nominated me, a mutual mate ours Jono Bruton tried to nominate me and I had managed to talk my way out of it. The push-ups didn’t bother me, it was more the fact that I was going to have to load a video of myself doing push-ups onto Facebook each day… which seemed rather repetitive.

So, as a result I decided to change things up a bit and made a donation to 25 different charities on each of the days that I did my push ups. The push-ups weren’t done over 25 consecutive days, but I completed them never the less and found the charity element to be incredibly rewarding.

The (traditional) rules for the challenge were simple:

*Once you are nominated your 25 days starts the following day;

*Every day you record yourself doing 25 push-ups no matter how good or bad you are;

*Every day you must nominate a different person

Along the way I made a donation to 25 different charities, the majority of which I have had the opportunity to donate to in the past or meet a few of the founders. Each of them play a phenomenal role in South Africa and are helping to change people’s lives. Below is a full list:

Move For Two

Mad2Adventures

Solidarity Fund

South Coast Hospice

Kariega Game Reserve

Reach for a Dream

Dullstroom Epilepsy Centre

Talhado Childrens Haven

The Sunflower Fund

Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy 

Ocean Pledge

WESSA

WWF

Bokamoso Education Trust

NSRI

Qhubeka Charity

Nelson Mandela Foundation

Afrika Tikkun

CHOC

Joburg Ballet

Waves for Change

UNICEF

Cotlands

Smile Foundation

The South African Foundation for Mental Health

Towards the mid-way point of my 25 days, the South African Foundation for Mental Health launched Mind the Gap. The campaign encourages South Africans to change our ingrained Covid-19 mindset from one of “social distancing” to one of “physical distancing and social solidarity”. You can learn more about it here.

One of the biggest lessons that I took away from the challenge is that we should not have to wait for a challenge like this to come about and to encourage us to change things up. When thinking about how I could change things up, I was drawn to the act of giving. In part because the challenge was around mental health, but also because I saw this as a challenge that could do more than purely drive awareness about mental health.

Completing this challenge reminded me of the importance of small contributions. Far too often I think that we don’t do something because we question if “our contribution” will lead to anything. Contributions no matter the size add up and often grow into meaningful movements.

A special thank you to everyone who has supported the challenge, engaged with the posts or spread the awareness. Let’s build awareness for anyone who is suffering from a mental illness – you are not alone.

We can build a better future, it requires us to value the power of people, to contribute towards things where we can, and to being open to learning from those around us.

“Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.” — Alan Cohen