Over the past few months numerous personnel from the Armed Forces community have chained themselves to a 3kg medicine ball for a week at a time to highlight the depression and anxiety that some in the Armed Forces carry around with them as they try to cope with mental health issues.

Captain Simon Protano, Public Relations Officer for Shropshire Army Cadet Force (ACF), was one of the participants to sign himself up for the challenge.

He first became aware of the medicine ball challenge after seeing Warrant Officer 1 Lightfoot, the Regimental Sergeant Major at Cadet Training Centre Frimley Park do the challenge earlier this year.  Simon was so interested in the concept that he took on the challenge of being handcuffed to a 3kg medicine ball for 7 days whilst attending the STEM camp at Salisbury.

The medicine ball represents the weight and burden that service personnel, veterans and people from all walks of life could be carrying around with them every day due to mental health problems.

The Medicine Ball wants to raise awareness of these issues.  The challenge involves being cuffed to the 3kg Medicine Ball to your wrist for a period of 7 days, and can only take it off to sleep, drive and dress.

Simon said “This is an ideal opportunity to help raise mental health awareness to our own cadets and encourage them to talk about problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.”

Colonel Gary Newbrook, Shropshire ACF Commandant commented: “Education is key in reducing barriers and the medicine ball challenge is a fantastic way to symbolise the weight each person suffering with mental illness carries around with them.”

The cadets were fascinated and keen to find out more to help.  Simon added: “The cadets have been eagerly awaiting to see me handcuffed to the Medicine Ball and once I was it was amazing how many cadets wanted to help me share the burden of carrying the ball themselves and walking with me discussing they own thoughts and feeling about the meaning behind the Challenge.”

During STEM camp the cadets visited the Royal Engineers and the Army Air Corps who both put on a fantastic display of their use of STEM within their own roles.

The money raised from the challenge is being distributed to mental health charities.  Over £11,000 has been raised so far.

To find out more about the challenge you can visit their fundraising page here.

You can find out more about joining Shropshire Army Cadet Force or volunteering opportunities with them here.

Photographs: Copyright Shropshire Army Cadet Force