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Cat Levine presented her talk on “Big Feelings” to thousands of students across Northland. Photo / supplied
A global pandemic can’t stop Cat Levine from conveying her message of mental wellbeing to Kiwi children.
Lockdown ended last year’s tractor trek for Gumboot Friday, where manager Levine had hoped to cover 2,000 miles with mental health attorney Mike King.
“We started in Bluff in March 2020, there were about 25 tractors, 36 of us on the team, and we went there to promote mental health and Gumboot Friday,” said Levine Jamie Mackay of the country.
The trek reached New Plymouth before Covid-19 dropped its proceedings, but that didn’t stop Levine, who completed the Waikato and Northland leg on the Big Feelings Tractor Trek.
“I put the tractors back together. We had 15 of us, we spent two weeks driving straight to Cape Reinga and back to Auckland, and I went to 20 schools, so that was over 5,000 school children I was allowed to attend. “
The trek gave Levine the opportunity to speak to children about developing positive mental health skills.
Talking to children fit in with Levine as she used to be a speaker in elementary schools doing shows “all around Auckland”. She then spoke to the corporate sector.
However, professional speaking soon became meager for Levine, who referred to herself as someone who enjoyed a “fun life”.
“Wherever it is fun, I like to follow him.”
After meeting Mike King, Levine decided to take part in the Tractor Trek where a scheduling conflict provided an opportunity to speak to school children.
“He couldn’t talk to both the schools and the farmers because he had to talk to the farmers during the day too. So we were a bit disappointed that the schools and the kids were going to miss the Tractor Trek.”
Levine told King about her background and spoke to school children. He suggested she try. She thought she would have a little fun for a month and then be a “serious speaker” again.
“But the feedback from the principals, teachers, and kids was that it was so necessary. I would have made kids in the audience cry if I’d talked about their big feelings … and that was before Covid, before all of this Scary stuff. “
Levine used the lock to ponder the experience, positive feedback, and priorities. She said it caused a “massive turnaround” in her career.
“I thought, look, do I chase the money and go to company meetings or do I go where it is really important with the children in our country?”
Levine also had a rural connection, she was born Putāruru and her father is a dairy farmer.
“Dairy farming is definitely in my DNA and in my blood.”
Levine used her farming background to connect with children in rural schools, who often valued their conversations a little more than their urban counterparts, who had more resources.
“We went to some lovely rural schools. Whangamomona, we had 14 kids in the full school role … the further I am in the country, the more appreciative they are and just feel so grateful that we avoided each other. Come on.” and visit them. “
While it wasn’t a particularly inexpensive exercise, it was worth it, Levine said.
“It really is the place where I get the greatest sense of accomplishment when I go to the rural schools. It’s a very different feeling in the schools, being out of town.”
Also in today’s interview: Levine shared how Doug Avery’s book “The Resilient Farmer” inspired her father to use the 2020 Tractor Trek to support rural mental health.
Where to get help:
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available around the clock)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available around the clock)
What’s happening: 0800 942 8787 (1 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available around the clock)
If it’s an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.