Quorrobolong’s Barbara Cowley isn't celebrating her 40th birthday in regular fashion.
Instead of having a party or going out for drinks, she has set up the ShineWalk180, a 180-kilometre trek from Cessnock TAFE grounds to Baulkham Hills Crowne Plaza from June 1 to 8.
The purpose of the walk is to raise funds and awareness for the Shine program, which assists girls and women in the local community to develop an understanding of their own personal worth, strength and purpose to reach their full potential.
“It’s a really great tool for women who have come out of abusive relationships and relationships where they feel they don’t have any value,” Barbara said.
The Shine program is a nine-week course that is run in over 30 countries with more than 20,000 women and girls getting involved so far.
Not only does the walk cover 180 kilometres, the number 180 represents the 180-degree turnaround that is evident in the lives of women and girls who attend the program.
The walk is building a lot of momentum, with Barbara originally intending to do it on her own with the help of a few sponsors.
Now she has signed on over 100 people to participate on the first day as well as some corporate sponsors.
Member for Cessnock Clayton Barr has agreed to open the walk, along with his family who will join Barbara in the walk to Kearsley.
Individuals can choose how much of the walk they would like to do, “whether it is seven minutes, seven kilometres or the whole thing,” Barbara said.
The cost is $80, covering the $70 cost to put one female through the program, and participants also get a T-shirt to wear on the day.
However participants don’t have to stop at $80, with sponsor sheets available to collect much needed funds.
“It will potentially affect the whole community and help girls make better choices in their lives,” Barbara said.
“Our aim is to get the Shine program into all high schools in the area.”