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24 May 2022

Derry GAA player raises over £700 for mental health through art challenge

Derry GAA player brushes up on painting skills for mental health cause

Ruairi Mooney has raised over £700 for mental health services so far.

Derry and Coleraine Eoghan Rua GAA player, Ruairi Mooney, has been producing an original piece of art each day for the last 100 days to raise awareness and vital funds for local mental health charity AWARE.

With New Year's Eve just around the corner, the finish line is in sight for Ruairi's 100 Days of Art Challenge in aid of AWARE, the depression charity for Northern Ireland. With over £700 already raised, he says the fundraising element alongside the online support he received throughout the challenge spurred him on each day.

“It was important for me to have a bigger purpose in mind for this campaign; knowing that my work contributed to a good cause helped fuel my motivation and kept me disciplined. Normalising conversations about mental wellbeing is a vital step in the right direction, and if my work has sparked even one chat, then I'm more than happy,” he said.

“The support and encouragement I received during this campaign were inspiring. I could never have imagined it would get such a reception, and I still have people messaging me about it. I have shipped my daily paintings to England, Germany, and even America.”

Although the 100 days have indeed been a challenge that required discipline, Ruairi describes the experience as enjoyable.

“The actual painting part of the challenge has been enjoyable, and I have learned a lot and developed some of my ideas and creative techniques. The main challenge was always finding the time each day to get my work done and posted; developing a good routine really helped with this.

"There were days when I just couldn't get started, but it's all in your head. Thankfully I won all my battles with procrastination and never missed a day. Once that initial hurdle is leaped, the painting takes care of itself, and I can consciously switch off.”

With Ruairi's passion for painting essential to manage his mental health, he encourages others to find an outlet to manage their own wellbeing:

“There are people who have gone through and are still going through tough times, and it is essential that the support is out there. Whether it is art or something else, having an outlet is really important for switching off from the noise of everyday life and quieting your mind.”

Margaret McCrossan, Community and Events Fundraising Officer at AWARE, said: "We're incredibly grateful to Ruairi for his dedication to this challenge. His artwork has showcased Northern Ireland's beauty while raising awareness for mental health services. The funds raised will help AWARE continue supporting local people affected by mental illness.”

AWARE’s free-to-attend support groups welcome people living with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. The groups provide a safe space to meet with others on a similar journey who can understand, encourage and suggest helpful ways of coping. AWARE also delivers mental health awareness courses to schools, workplaces, community groups, and hospitals to equip people with the tools they need to best look after their minds. 

For information on AWARE's programmes and support, please visit www.aware-ni.org, and to check out more pieces from Ruairi Mooney's 100 Days of Art challenge, visit his Instagram @artbymooney

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