Deniliquin Pastoral Times

$10,000 and mental health awareness raised at dinner

By Olivia Duffey

Brenda Norman’s incredible channel swims have been an avenue to draw attention to an important issue, youth mental health.

They have been daring and hard, challenging her both physically and mentally, but Miss Norman says it is worth it, helping so many in the local area access help.

‘‘In my journey, there have been times when I haven’t been okay,’’ she said.

‘‘I have needed to seek the support of those around me, in my community, to help me.

‘‘But, seeing the impact it (mental health) had, particularly amongst the high school kids, gave me the motivation to keep swimming for the cause. because my quest was never about the destination.

‘‘I have taken more from seeing the impact of my swim on others than a sense of accomplishment from becoming a channel swimmer.’’

Miss Norman hosted a Channel 4 Change gala dinner on Friday night at Deniliquin Golf Club which was attended by more than 100 people and raised more than $10,000.

‘‘The night was really reflective of our local community who are so generous in many ways, from attending the event to donating or even purchasing auction items,’’ she said.

‘‘However, it is not just about raising money. Half of it is just raising awareness and to get people talking and accepting the issue.

‘‘The money raised will be used to offer more training and initiatives around mental health and supporting those who want to start their own initiative through grants we are going to offer.’’

Miss Norman shared a letter she received from a student at Deni High following her return from the English Channel last year.

‘‘One Year 7 student wrote this to me,’’ she told the guests.

‘‘Hi Miss Norman, it is a good thing you have done for so many people, as 1 in 3 people suffer from mental health issues.

‘‘It is amazing you did it for our school and Deni itself. I hope you are alright and you enjoy your time before you come home.

‘‘You have inspired me to do amazing things to help others, treat others more kindly and help someone when they need it. Maybe at some point I could do the channel for change and maybe raise more money. Thank you.

‘‘This kid is only 13 but I am incredibly proud that he understands exactly why I swam to France.’’

Miss Norman will swim her third channel on October 3, the Catalina Channel but says Channel 4 Change will not stop there.

‘‘The future of Channel 4 Change doesn’t rest with me swimming every channel around the world,’’ she said.

‘‘It is about our community continuing to look for new avenues or ‘channels’ for change. I truly hope that together we can continue to provide a Channel 4 Change.’’

Go to to donate and help Channel 4 Change raise awareness of youth mental health, particularly in rural and regional areas.