Hello to the all Illawarra’s Top Model participants, supporters and the amazing extended family this great campaign has buit over 2015 and 2016… in support of Highlights on Mental Health (HoMH)
HoMH was founded in 2013, back at a time when the words ‘Mental Health’ were avoided in open conversations, making in very difficult for individuals and families challenged by mental health in its many forms – to access the necessary information and gain the help required for recovery.
Over four years the ‘Highlights on Mental Health’ campaign has been acknowledging and embracing the seriousness of mental health, and its wide spread effects on the community at large. The campaign set out on a brave mission to build new and very necessary awareness, community support and much needed funds to maintain the MH Clubhouse in the Illawarra. Well over $350K has now been raised through this campaign and our mission to extend the function of the Clubhouse has been very successful each year, with a further contribution in 2016 going to Young Carers in the Illawarra.
My initial personal goal, four years ago, was to engage the hairdressing Industry to launch the campaign… highlighting well known Wollongong identities though the Illawarra Mercury with outlandish highlights and hairdo’s, that would attract the attention of the community – and start a new open and happy level of conversation that I felt hairdressers could ignite as well as anyone. With no lead up plan and no budget – 20 top Salons of the Illawarra generously embraced this challenge and freed up a new easy level of conversation and awareness – raising enough funds through their salons to extend the operation of the Clubhouse in Wollongong. I salute these salons as they were the first runners in our mission to make a difference and have continued to support the campaign over the 4 years, in more ways than one!
In 2015 and 2016 Illawarra’s Top Model became the ‘flagship’ fundraiser which invited a broader community participation… opening up to include not only the support of the Hair and Beauty Industries, but the Fashion Retail Industry and families across the Illawarra.
Young people of the Illawarra jumped on board with a refreshing attitude and an enthusiasm that was heartening to say the least. The ITM Family was born! A magic formula linked participants and their families to a powerful platform of compassion and support for this important cause…offering most effective personal development, new friendships and social well being, improved confidence – with lots of fun on the runway in exciting fashion shows that lead to modelling career opportunities for many of our young participants.
The Campaign has helped turn Mental Health on its head and I am proud to have lead this campaign to a place – where a meaningful forum has been well established… establishing the need to recognize the many real mental health conditions that threaten the well being of individuals and families across the community – and concerningly in the work place. This subject is no longer whispered, but now enjoys a dramatically improved level of acceptance from all corners of the community – with promising plans for the future.
We could not have spearheaded this campaign to such heights without the much appreciated support from our dedicated committee and volunteer supporters across the community, together with our wonderful sponsors who have made it all possible. The ITM Campaign grew rapidly marking a major event in the Illawarra. However the concept will require a new structure to move ahead. We are hopeful our ITM plans will be announced in 2018, that will involve other regions with possible plans for a National Final.
This year 2017, as Founder and Creative Director, I have had to step back and take some much needed time out from the volunteer role I have played over the last 4 years, but will continue to respond to the many enquiries I have received regarding ITM in 2017.
We will keep you posted with our progress in 2017… and welcome Inquiries or support for ITM’s future at my email address: email@example.com
Robyn te Velde
Artist, Hair & Fashion Consultant
Founder Highlights on Mental Health