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Youngcare Challenges: Why You Should Get Involved

From CEO Anthony Ryan.

The two Youngcare challenges that I have done have made me a better Dad, a better leader in this organization, it’s brought back to me the importance of teamwork, transparency, bringing people along for the ride, not being allured by your own ego and actually being more present to others thoughts, and it expands your thinking as well.

For me, the standout moment was at 2 o’clock in the morning when I woke up. The clouds had scattered, the snow has stopped and I was sitting in the middle of this beautiful, pristine white wilderness and I could hear my dogs snuffling. I looked up and there were just whispers of the Northern Lights taking place. It just happened for a brief moment and that was absolutely awesome.

At the same time, the most challenging part was that you couldn’t switch off. I thought it was going to be easy – sitting on the back of a sled, going through some wide landscapes. But you’re actually going through the forest, so you had to concentrate the whole time. The dogs would turn really quickly and the speeds that you go at different stages, rise to about 45km/hour so if you stop concentrating, you went straight into trees. There were actually a lot of falls; I dislocated my shoulder and my thumb. But that’s not a downer, that was part of the adventure and you wanted to be challenged.

If I found it easy, I would’ve been disappointed.

 Compared to the Simpson Desert Challenge, which was an aerobic challenge, this needed more mental strength and concentration. You needed to be able to endure extreme temperature, some nights it got to minus 35 degrees. Simple things like going to the toilet, going to brush your teeth, getting changed, getting up out of your seat – those things were really quite painful. There were times when, even when we were feeding the dogs and you take your gloves off at that temperature, you start getting frostbite straight away, so you can only feed one dog at a time and only use one hand at a time. That blew me away.

I’m really well travelled, and I’ve now decided that I’m bored with normal travel. I really want to have excitement, adventure, beauty. I want good food, beautiful landscapes, but if I can mix that in with a real physical, and intellectual challenge, then that’s the ultimate holiday for me. It becomes very addictive.

We were at one stage sitting in the middle of this frozen lake, and for hundreds of kilometres, there’d be not one human being, you had the wolves on the cliff face that you could hear howling. You felt safe, and you were in this incredible landscape. Underneath you, the frozen water was creating these big bellows as it readjusted and you could feel it go through your body. We were sitting there, eating these hotdogs that we’d cooked up on a fire, on this frozen lake and that was an incredibly special moment there and then.

You build this great friendship up with everyone on your team, and it was exciting, fun, there was a sense of solidarity, because it was a task that we had to finish. But we were doing it in a beautiful spot of the world.

And at the same time, you know that you’re doing something that will have such profound impact on young people with high care needs lives. The SDC and the Yukon, in their own ways, take away your choice and control, and therefore we kept saying to each other on both challenges; what would it be like not to have this on a daily basis, 365 days of the year, all of your life. There is definitely a reflection component. Everyone at some stage got the chance to wear the Youngcare flag and that was a special moment for people. They gave a speech about Youngcare and what it meant to them – those things really concretize in your mind why you’re doing it.

You go there because you want to be challenged, you want to understand, and you want to challenge yourself physically, emotionally and intellectually.

To anyone considering doing a Youngcare challenge, first of all I would say Youngcare is such a compelling cause. To be able to do a challenge that advocates and amplifies the voice of those that need a voice to assist them to get what they need, whether that’s choice, control, dignity, I couldn’t think of something more admirable to do.

Secondly, from a personal perspective, there’s not too many times in your life where you can go to a place that is physically stunning and be able to turn off the traffic in your mind. There are no mobile phones, there are no emails, and you can’t ring home. You’re just there with your own thoughts, with your own sense of time, it feels as if you have more time to think, you have a lot of lightbulb moments, things become a lot clearer for you, and it changes the way you interpret and perceive yourself. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s not, it actually happens.

The two Youngcare challenges that I have done have made me a better Dad, a better leader in this organization, it’s brought back to me the importance of teamwork, transparency, bringing people along for the ride, not being allured by your own ego and actually being more present to others thoughts, and it expands your thinking as well.

Most leaders keep saying they’re too busy – that’s ridiculous.

Leaders need to take themselves away from their networks, their circle of influence and the way they think to look from the outside in.

That provides so much clarity on their own thinking, their own strategies, and that’s absolutely important. To say you’re ‘too busy’ or that you ‘can’t afford 7-10 days off’, is actually denying yourself the most important aspect of leadership, and that’s reflection.

I wake up every day with a spring in my step. My job provides me with purpose and that purpose is to impact on a family every day.

To get in my car and drive out of the office every day and know that you’re impacting positively on people’s lives and changing lives of individuals that in some way you’ll never see, never hear their thanks (which isn’t important anyway) or never understand the impact of what you’re doing, is a really powerful thing. Actually, it is incredibly humbling too.

To see our upcoming challenges, and to get involved click here.

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