By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Life’s crossroads have been the source of “reinvention” for a former sports coach.
Kenny Johnston, from Hampton Park, is set to launch his own bold mental health initiative Reinvent to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October.
The former coach at Sandringham Dragons and the AFL’s multicultural program wants to share his own ‘reinvention’ ethos to help others who’ve hit a “personal lockdown”.
As many people during the Covid pandemic have.
The campaign is about finding ways to reinvent yourself in the face of challenges.
In recent years, the life-long motivator went into “lockdown mode” as he suffered anxiety and depression.
The extroverted people’s person walked away from his passion for AFL coaching and his love of singing and songwriting.
During Covid lockdowns, Mr Johnston endured long stints without work.
But he focused on adapting – or “reinventing” – ways to cope. This year he embarked on a new career in the disability sector.
His journey back was also found through sharing music.
First by performing with other musicians at a neighbour’s “Party Room” on Friday nights, and then regular free gigs at a yacht club.
The former Bangladesh refugee, who had escaped “horrific” war in 1974, found serenity – overlooking a bay of boats, with his wife, his new “down to earth” friends and his guitar.
“It wasn’t about me. It was about giving back and touching other’s hearts.
“I wrote a song straight from the heart ‘Back to the Country’ about the way my wife and I were accepted and the care they provided with no pressure.”
Mr Johnston realised that his life had been about five stages of reinvention.
Exploring new things, integrating the lessons, creating ways to “make each day different and interesting”, sharing and then letting go.
“Through this I found ways to cope and adjust when life threw me a curve ball.
“When the good times roll, we are in heaven, our safe place.
“However, when the journey gets tough, it’s how we adapt, cope and rebuild ourselves to each situation – that’s what counts.”
Mr Johnston wants to share the ethos that has strengthened him. To give back.
“When something bad happens, you have three choices.
“You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”
Reinvent will be launched online on 10 October. Merchandise such as T-shirts and caps with Mr Johnston’s self-designed Reinvent logo.
He will offer 50 per cent of proceeds to mental health causes.