Girls playing soccer with yellow ribbons in their hair, the surf club doing a 24 hour rowing challenge, shops decking themselves out in yellow, people wearing the colour to signify hope, and stickers being handed out in the street.
Gerringong showed what a caring community it is on Saturday by sharing hope and kindness in the wake of recent tragedies.
It was the town's response to recent suicides that have deeply impacted the community. And it gave locals and visitors the chance to openly talk about the subject of mental health.
Yellow Up Gerringong was organised by a community led network called Gezza Cares. Its objective is to connect and educate people of all ages in the community, especially teenagers and young adults.
Paramedic Shane Wicks said the decision to implement a yellow theme on Saturday was done as a sign of compassion and support for all those affected by the sad events that have recently occurred in the close-knit community.
Mr Wicks said Yellow Up Gerringong on Saturday was also about creating hope, solidarity and an opportunity for people to talk.
Yellow letterboxes, gates, fences, pom poms and ribbons on buildings and trees also prompted visitors to ask what Yellow Up Gerringong was all about and engage in the conversation.
Many of the clubs and churches in the seaside town got involved as did players from the local rugby league team who are growing mullets for the Black Dog Institute.
Mr Wicks said by talking about the subject openly it provided more opportunities to connect people with training professionals, educators and community groups. And work towards goals such as getting a full time youth centre up and running in Gerringong. And organising programs and seminars for the town.
"We have had a great response. Pre-schools and schools have jumped on board and so have all the shopkeepers," he said.
"It is great to see Kiama and Jamberoo have also got involved by yellowing up as well. It hasn't only affected us. It has affected the whole local government area.
"By dressing up in yellow people are coming up and asking us what it is about. We are getting to talk to them and help break the stigma around mental health and suicide. It can be treated. You have just got to ask for help and it is there.
"One of the biggest things we want to get through is that 'you are not alone'."
Mr Wicks said togetherness was so important.
He said the rowing challenge at Gerringong Surf Club was for Gotcha4life to fund a suicide prevention program for members and cadets.
Mr Wicks said COVID-19 was having an impact on mental health and Yellow Ribbons in America passed on their well wishes on Saturday for what was being done in Gerringong.
He said those involved with Gezza Cares want every single person to know their mental wellness is important.
And that if they are experiencing mental illness, or are feeling challenges by life right now, they are not alone.
Natalie McGarry started her Saturday at Natural Necessity Surf Shop by decorating the front of the shop and the adjoining Perfect Break Cafe in yellow.
She said the team at the iconic surf shop had recently lost one of their own and Yellow Up Gerringong was a cause very close to their heart.
"We were heavily affected by it and wanted to jump on board," she said.
"We have such a young staff base. The town itself has also been deeply affected."
Ms McGarry said business owner Kent Ladkin was very community minded and the whole team wanted to be part of the kind caring community spirit being shown on Saturday.
Nicole McMahon was in the main street handing out yellow ribbons and Gezza Cares stickers.
She said it opened plenty of dialogue from people asking her what it was all about.
One of Mrs McMahon's own children recently lost a classmate.
She said it was great for people in the community to be able to do something like Yellow Up Gerringong at a time when everyone was feeling at a loss.
Mrs McMahon said Gerringong is such a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone and there was so much compassion for the families who have lost a loved one.
Saturday was like a symbol that showed the whole town cares.
"Everyone I have spoken to is really supportive and positive about what we are doing".
- Kids Helpline counselling for young people aged between 5 and 25. 1800 55 1800 - kidshelpline.com.au
- Suicide Callback Service for anyone thinking about suicide: 1300 659457 - suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- Lifeline for anyone having a personal crisis. 13 11 14 - lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Blue for anyone feeling anxious and depressed. 1300 22 4636 - beyondblue.org.au
- Question, Persuade, Refer free online training. suicidepreventioncollaborative.org.au/training/question-pursuade-refer/
More pictures to come:
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