Walking Inca Trail for charity

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Worthwhile cause . . . Social worker Hattie Spanton will walk the Inca Trail, in Peru, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

A career as a social worker has inspired a Dunedin woman to trek to one of the new seven wonders of the world to raise money for a cause close to her heart.

Hattie Spanton, of Balaclava, will walk the five-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, in Peru, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

She said she always wanted to do the walk and was motivated to do it when she realised she could raise money for the foundation.

She liked that the walk was steeped in history.

“[I’m] walking to the Inca ruins, so that side has always appealed to me.”

While she was preparing by going to the gym to improve her cardio and stamina, the mental aspect would be the toughest.

“Five days of walking; it’s a long time.”

Mental health was a “passion” of hers, and something she encountered every day as a social worker.

“I’ve had lots of people close to me struggle with mental health issues so the fact I could do something to raise awareness for such an important cause was the clincher for me.”

Awareness needed to be raised, she said.

“Especially in our work – we come up against it all the time, that mental health stigma.

“I find a lot of my clients have depression or quite high anxiety.”

Post-natal depression was also a “massive” issue and many women were undiagnosed.

“It’s more common than you think.

“They are quite isolated because they don’t feel like it’s something they can talk about.”

Peru for 12 days in September with a group of New Zealanders, all walking for the same cause.

She hoped people would start talking to each other about their mental health.

“What I have found is when you start that dialogue so many people then come forward and open up about it.

“All it takes it that ‘are you all right’ and someone going ‘actually no, I’m not’.”

She will hold a quiz night on May 16 and all the proceeds will go to the foundation.

The trip is self-funded.

To give, go to https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/hattiespanton/inca-trail-2019