Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Baking Our Blues Away - an exercise in neighbourliness and caring about and for others.


THINK of a time where life wasn't going so great.
A time where perhaps someone brought you something to take your mind off things. Perhaps that someone baked you a cake.
And maybe that offer of something to eat, with a cup of tea, promoted a conversation between you and that person.
On Monday, July 15, everyone is encouraged to take a moment and give someone they know, or a stranger, "a bit of baked or handmade love", for Baking Our Blues Away.
The event is an annual day of goodwill, now in its second year.
It does not aim to raise funds, but simply, raise the general wellbeing of others.
Daylesford baker and event founder, Michelle Symes, believes conversation has the power to change the way a person feels.
According to Beyond Blue, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia.
On average, one in four (one in three women and one in five men) will experience anxiety at some stage in their life.
In a 12-month period, more than two million Australians experience anxiety.
"It makes people feel special because somebody's taken the time to hand-bake something."
For Michelle, the issue is close to home, having friends and family who have suffered anxiety and depression.
"My husband was diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago and developed anxiety, triggered by the news he had the illness," she said.
"We'd never been exposed to it before, so it was a bit of an eye opener."
Last year, she started the initiative to raise awareness.
"I'm a big fan of feeding others and nourishing people ... when I know someone's not happy or well, I always cook for them, so it made sense to me to bake and make that part of the initiative," she said.
More than 5600 people took part last year, all over the world.
In Indonesia, one woman had an orphanage at the end of her street.
She took chocolate cupcakes to the children in the orphanage, who had never eaten cakes before.
She then posted a photo of the children eating cake for the first time.
Children at the Indonesian orphanage
"That smile and that elation that comes from the first taste of something sweet ... it was the most special photo and was lovely to have that impact on kids who had not experienced that kind of stuff," Michelle said.
Another participant posted a photo of her husband, who was terminally ill.
"He'd had four hours of chemo that day and she'd spent the day making a sponge cake," Michelle said.
"She put a photo of him holding the sponge cake, on our Facebook feed.
"We had other people take (the initiative) to their local schools, to their teachers, and do activities with kids."
A woman left these on her neighbour's doorstep
This year, she's hoping to get 10,000 people involved.
It has taken social media by storm, being supported on Twitter by Dannii Minogue, Shane Jacobson and blue Wiggle Anthony Field, who himself suffered depression.
Michelle maintains the initiative is not about whether someone has depression or anxiety, but primarily is about goodwill.
"Sit down, have a cuppa and let people chat about how their life's going," she said.
"People don't always get that opportunity and sometimes they need to be given that before they talk.
"It makes people feel special because somebody's taken the time to hand-bake something and I think it just makes people feel valued."

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