We’re delighted to be joined by Louise Randall, founder and trustee of GRIT, a charity created to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of teenagers through a unique and innovative program designed to help reduce anxiety and self-destructive behaviours by building resilience.
Louise tells us all about the work they are doing, the role of exercise in the program, and her upcoming charity challenge at Snowdon.
Hey Louise, great to have you joining us today. What three things do people need to know about you?
- I am not a morning person.
- Most people think I’m an extrovert. I’m an introvert.
- You should never dare me to do anything because I will probably do it and we’ll both end up in trouble.
What does exercise mean to you?
I need exercise in my life – it helps me manage stress and gives me the feel-good factor. I like most forms of exercise, but I’ve learnt just to enjoy it rather than turn every form of exercise I do into a competition! I enjoy all sorts of exercise but I usually prefer anything that encourages me to ‘be in the moment’ rather than training for a specific goal – things like walking, team sports, snowboarding etc which I do for simple enjoyment. I have enough targets to meet in other aspects of my life!
Describe GRIT and why did you start it?
Growing Resilience in Teens (GRIT) is a charity that aims to offer teenagers who are self-harming an alternative treatment programme. Self-harm is so misunderstood. In my experience of self-harm, which includes any destructive behaviour such as cutting, disordered eating, addiction and anti-social behaviour to name a few, it starts when the truth of a situation is just too painful to face. This behaviour provides an escape from it and can temporarily relieve distress. From a professional point of view, I am aware of the strain on resources for young people with mental health problems and the need for more access to resources. I also suffered with mental health problems as a teenager and I know what helped me recover and deal with difficult emotions. I wanted to develop a holistic programme which aims to give teenagers the skills they need to help face their distress and move through it.
What role does exercise play in GRIT and how important is it?
The first step in reaching your full potential is being able to take care of your physical body. It is difficult to meet your emotional needs if your physical needs are not being met. This means addressing sleep, rest, exercise, nutrition and practical stuff like school work. The initial part of the programme, therefore, focuses on this and involves weekly exercise in the form of non-contact boxing and yoga. This has been a hugely successful part of the programme. The teens, in particular, love the boxing – it gives them an endorphin high, allows them to vent their frustrations but also provides the camaraderie and team building that goes with sport. For some of the teens just having this weekly exercise has been enough to help them through a difficult time.
We couldn’t agree more. Tell us about your upcoming Snowdon challenge?
The boxing gym has not only been incredibly supportive of GRIT since the beginning but they were the instigators of the Snowdon Triple Challenge, which involves a 9-mile bike ride, a climb up and down Snowdon followed by a 2-mile kayak ride. There are 12 of us going – 8 men from the boxing gym, myself and 3 girlfriends. The women are organised but the men keep losing links to pay balances etc and all the instructions. When one of them asked a few days ago if there was cycling involved, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It will be a miracle if we all get down in one piece!! It will be worth it though – the money raised will be put towards developing the programme so we can make it more accessible to different groups of young people.
Best of luck! When it comes to fitness and healthy living what motivates and inspires you personally?
I guess the quote from the philosopher Socrates, “No person has the right to be an amateur on the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a person to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which their body is capable of”.
And what does a healthy lifestyle means to you?
I think a healthy lifestyle is a very individual thing and there is no one size fits all. To me, it’s whatever lifestyle allows you to enjoy living life to the full in the way that you want to live your life.
Thanks Louise, check out the amazing work GRIT is doing on their website here: https://gritcharity.org/
You can also donate to their charity fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Trek4GRIT