Racing ahead of youth mental health problems.
Kirk Jones, resident of Spencerville, will be competing in this year’s Targa Newfoundland race, which runs from Sept. 11 to 15. His goal is to raise $100,000 for youth mental health.
His team manager and wife, Rebecca Jones, is the office administrator at North Grenville District High School in Kemptville.
The couple experienced firsthand the shortcomings of resources for youth mental health when their daughter, Storm Jones, suffered a brain injury while skiing.
“If you’ve lived it, you realize the system sucks,” he said. “The way the system works is if you’ve tried to commit suicide or are physically impaired, then they engage. You can’t get the help you need before that point.”
The issue is not enough resources for parents with children dealing with mental health problems, he explained.
“Why do they let it get to the point where the damage is so deep that you can’t get ahead of the curve?”
Following the injury, Storm went through a “dark, dark period” mentally, he noted.
“That’s why they are so crazy about concussions now. There is a hard link between brain injuries and mental health problems.”
Taking part in Targa is more about raising awareness than funds, he explained.
“The car is a prop. That’s all it is. The vision here is to raise awareness. This is not really about me. This is a great opportunity to create awareness by getting people to talk about youth mental health. At the end of the day, this kills kids.”
Jones chose to start his own youth mental health foundation, through the Community Foundation of Ottawa, called nobrainR – Race for Mental Health Fund. All funds raised will be distributed to CHEO Youth Net, Parents Lifelines of Eastern Ontario, Hotel Dieu Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program and Thrive Community Youth Network St. John’s.
“We created our own foundation to have as a legacy for our kids,” said Jones. “Mental health impacts one in five Canadians and 70 per cent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.”
Jones first learned of Targa races back in 1992, when he was living in Australia. Due to the limited number of television channels at the time, he winded up watching the inaugural Targa Tasmania race
“I had never seen anything like that before and I said I’ve got to do this,” he noted.
Ever since that moment 25 years ago, taking part in a Targa race has been on Jones’ bucket list.
“This is not a rabbit race. This is a turtle race. We need to make the car last five days and cover 1,600 kilometers.”
Targa Newfoundland is one of three Targa races worldwide, including Tasmania and New Zealand.
Jones’ car, a 2016 Volkswagen (VW) Golf R, was recently on display at the Motorama car show in Toronto.
“I was overwhelmed with the reception and the conversations,” said Jones.
The third member of Jones’ team nobrainRacing is Corey Posser, Newfoundland native and veteran Targa navigator, who will be joining Jones on the five-day journey.
Currently, team nobrainRacing has several partners, including O’Farrell Financial Services in Kemptville.
“I can’t say enough about those guys. They live and breathe their mission statement.”
Hunt Club Volkswagen in Ottawa, another partner, is planning to raffle off a brand new VW Beatle in support of the cause.
Team nobrainRacing is looking for more partners. A $500 donation will get your logo or brand on the car, which will receive significant media coverage.
“This is not like a typical race team where you need money for the car. We are seeking partnerships so all the money we raise can go to the foundation.”
He explained the rate of mental health problems are 1.5 times higher than all cancers put together, and seven times higher than all infectious diseases.
“The truth is scary.”
Jones’ objective is not to win, but to finish the race, and raise awareness while he does it.
To donate or become a partner, visit www.nobrainr.ca.