Latest News

Walk4Paws 30-Day Dog Walking Challenge for Mental Health

A dog walk a day keeps the vet and doctor away!
Mental health charity is on a mission to change people and pet lives

Mental health advocate, cycling enthusiast and public speaker Vaughan McVilly is on a mission with his best pal Gilly to sign you up to a 30-day dog walking challenge and help change the state of mental and physical health in Australia for two and four-legged friends and family!

The WALK4PAWS Mental Health March will kickstart at the 2022 Sydney Dog Lovers Show (August 6 – 7) and anyone who signs up during the show will be in the running .. err walking … to win one of two 7-night couples retreats in Fiji, each valued at over $5,000!

As a Board member of the Mental Wheels Foundation (MWF) charity which focuses on changing lives by improving mental health in Australia, Vaughan co-founded the WALK4PAWS initiative to raise $1 million and save 1,000 dogs from shelters to become therapy dogs for people with mental health adversities.

Since November 2021, WALK4PAWS has raised more than $11,300 for mental health research and programs to make a real positive impact on mental health in Australia, says Vaughan.

“This year Aussies have continued to face challenges including Covid, unemployment and floods. We are determined to motivate people to continue or start the dog walking challenge to improve the mental and physical state of themselves and their dogs. And we are here to help them all the way!” he says.

According to Lifeline, nine Australians die every day by suicide and more than 65,000 make a suicide attempt each year.
“Awareness of mental health issues is now high but there is still a gap in developing real life changing programs and initiatives,” says Vaughan.
“Mental health awareness campaigns have been doing a great job and making us aware of problems, but after someone asks 'ARE U OK' and the person says 'NO', what do you do next? 

MWF raises funds to support research and organisations, like MindSpot, that will make sure that there is something you can offer after someone says I am not ok.”

If you’re feeling depressed and looking for help and advice, please speak to your health professional or contact

A personal battle with mental health

Like so many people, Vaughan has been through his own battle with mental health. A failed business, which made him feel like he let down his family and his partner, led him to a dark place and the road back was long, hard and very lonely.

However, that same road led Vaughan to many amazing humans, beautiful stories and a special little girl named Gilly who helped guide him back. Gilly is Vaughan’s Border Collie and brings the father of two so much joy and fulfilment each day.

“We walk every day and learn new things together every day,” says Vaughan. 

“Gilly shows unconditional love and provides me with a higher sense of purpose. She relies on me for physical and mental stimulus as well as food, and I depend on her for mental and physical motivation and licks!”

Sign up to the challenge at the Dog Lovers Show!

WALK4PAWS invites dog lovers to its stand at the Sydney Dog Lovers Show to sign up to the dog walking challenge and enter the competition to win one of two amazing Fijian holiday retreats!

Vaughan and Gilly will be there too for a chat and play and if you follow WALK4PAWS on social media (Instagram or Facebook), you will receive a WALK4PAWS dog lead as well! (Simply LIKE either page and direct message either page your name and mailing address.)

Dog lovers can also accept the 30-day dog walking challenge from anywhere in Australia at any time by registering on the Walk4Paws website. Entry is free!

Plus, you can join MWF Ambassadors and other inspiring mental health advocates on WALK4PAWS’ social media for daily virtual dog walks together and learn how they put their mental health FURst!

Goal to save dogs and people

The MWF launched the Walk4Paws Mental Health March dog walking challenge to inspire two and four-legged friends and family to combat mental and physical health adversities faced by Australians.

Gareth Pike with his dog Jet
Gareth Pike, co-founder of MWF, says, “Research shows that walking improves physical fitness – reducing obesity – and mental health in both people and their pets. 

Our main goal is to take 1,000 dogs from animal shelters and, in partnership with MindDog, train them to be service dogs and paired with a person suffering from mental health adversities in a 12-month program that delivers amazing results.”

MindDog psychiatric assistance dogs help people with mental health disorders, whose lives are often severely compromised by anxiety and fear, to travel on public transport, access public places and take part in social activities which have been closed off to them.

In addition, MWF has teamed up with MQ Health (a research division of Macquarie University) to fund and run its own clinical trial cohorts that deliver meaningful data around mental health and wellbeing.

How Walk4Paws Dog Walking Challenge Works

Sign up here
✔️ Walk your dog for 30 minutes every day for 30 days.

✔️ Post a pic or video of you walking your dog and tag #Walk4Paws & #MentalHealthMarch each day.

✔️ Each day nominate another dog owner to accept the challenge.

✔️ It is not compulsory to raise funds however all participants are encouraged raise funds for mental health research and programs.

For more information, contact
For other upcoming fundraising events, keep your paws on Walk4Paws website, Facebook or Instagram.

About Mental Wheels Foundation

  • Our Vision:
To change lives by improving Mental Health in Australia.
  • Our Mission:
To understand why and how to improve mental health through research; To support the community through accessible clinical programs and Mental Wheel of Life Workshops; To assist individuals with Foundation Scholarships.
  • Our Actions:
To fund Clinical Trials and Research that deliver results; Promote accessible treatment through MindSpot; Deliver Scholarship programs to support our youth in Sport and Music.
  • What do we do?
✔️ We fund Clinical Trials and Research: We’ve partnered with the research team at Macquarie University to complete clinical trials that look at the behaviours and activities associated with good emotional well-being and how these can change over time as a result of participating in treatment. Most of the research in this area to date has been with female participants, so our first cohort ensures we have adequate representation of males and females. With this success we are now able to target other cohorts in society where there is a lack of information to better improve their mental wellbeing.
✔️ We promote accessible treatment through MindSpot: MindSpot is Australia’s first national online assessment and treatment platform for anxiety and depression. The program has supported more than 100,000 Australians, either by direct engagement or through their healthcare professionals. We believe support and treatment for mental health should be available to every Australian, and that the traditional barriers of stigma, cost and proximity to a healthcare professional can be eliminated.
✔️ We deliver Scholarship programs to support our youth in Sport and Music: The Mental Wheels Foundation Scholarship Programs are designed to support young Australian’s that have been confronted by a significant life challenge and need support to deliver their true talent. We have partnered with the Australian Institute of Sport, and Big Music, to develop sport and music scholarship programs, both of which play an important role in overcoming mental health challenges according to research.
✔️ We deliver Mental Wheel of Life Workshops: The Mental Wheels Foundation, in conjunction with Macquarie University and MindSpot, have developed a series of Workshops that can be delivered to all organisations to promote positive mental health, mental health awareness and real-life tools to better equip those who are struggling with life's challenges.

MEDIA RELEASE, 27th July 2022

Related Topics:

Walk4Paws for #MentalHealthMarch

No comments

Post a Comment