“Sometimes people look at me and think I’m a big intimidating person” Rowan said, “but once people get to know me, they call me a big cuddly bear.”
We’re pleased to celebrate 19-year-old Rowan Dann as this week’s local leader, whose passion for working with young people and supporting mental health has firmly grounded him as a beloved role model for so many in the Hedland community.
Vicki Stephens, CEO at the Youth Involvement Council didn’t skip a beat when nominating Rowan as part of the Hedland Collective Local Leader Series. “He is just the most beautiful character. Born and bred in Hedland, everyone knows Rowan and everyone who does just loves him” she said.
During high school, Rowan realised just how important looking after our own mental health and wellbeing is. “I got separated with friends and drifted apart. So, I started walking to school with them, from Port to South” Rowan said. It was through these walks that Rowan was able to better connect with his friends, talk openly, and support one another through any of the challenges they were facing.
That’s how Rowan’s Walk for Suicide Prevention started. Last Saturday, the walk celebrated its third annual event, with a great turn out, bringing together local Hedland residents, community and industry leaders to reflect upon the impact of suicide and encourage people to actively look after their mental health. For Rowan, it is also incredibly important to highlight that mental health challenges disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and boys. It’s all about encouraging others talk openly and reach out for help when you need it.
“It was a bit of a fluke how it started”, Rowan said humbly, “but it’s really great. It’s a way to raise awareness for Hedland and for the whole of Australia that there is hope. Walking 10km in the morning can actually be quite hard to try and go through, but it’s important, to do it together for our people, past, present and emerging.”
After leaving school, it wasn’t long before Rowan found himself back again, working with students as an Aboriginal Indigenous Engagement Officer at Hedland Senior High School where he enthusiastically supports other young people in his community. And as if that’s not enough, you can also find Rowan at his other job at JD Hardie Youth Zone, where he continues to inspire and encourage, all while having a bit of fun with his community as a youth programs officer.
If there’s one thing that Rowan is keen to share with other young people it’s that “the best part about going to school is making memories and even more amazing friends. No feeling is better than growing up and remembering everything and everyone that supported you along the way. So make sure you stay in school and live life to its fullest.”
If you know someone who is worth celebrating, maybe it’s a young person who displays excellent leadership, a colleague, friend, grandparent or sports coach, nominate them today. All it takes is a few moments to help us celebrate the amazing people shaping our community.