ACT News

Canberra teen becomes comic book hero to spread the stroke message

Evatt teenager Josh Goyne is already a bit of a hero when it comes to raising awareness about strokes.

Now the 16-year-old's story has inspired a comic book teaching children to recognise the signs of stroke and explain the life-threatening and disabling illness. 

Legacy: Josh Goyne with the comic book "Medikids Explain Stroke", which is based on his experience of losing his ...
Legacy: Josh Goyne with the comic book "Medikids Explain Stroke", which is based on his experience of losing his grandfather to stroke. Photo: Matt Bedford

His grandfather, Barry Graham, suffered six strokes, the last of which claimed his life in August. 

Josh was just nine years old when his grandfather had his first stroke. 

The teen is proud his story was used for the Medikidz Explain Stroke comic book, which explores what happens to the body during a stroke and explains the potential impact on movement, speech and memory. 

"I'm very proud to be able to do it and it makes it feel 100 per cent better that the cause is to do with stroke and it's in honour of my grandfather.  It's kind of keeping his memory alive and helps get an important stroke-safe message out there and explains it to kids who might have been in the same circumstance I was," he said.

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The comic book also explains stroke symptoms and teaches children the Face, Arm, Speech and Time (FAST) test. 

Josh said he and his grandfather had been very close and it had been awful seeing him go through six strokes and hundreds of mini-strokes.

"It was honestly the worst experience of my life because he's always been my idol and inspiration," he said. 

National Stroke Foundation chief executive Erin Lalor said it was difficult explaining stroke to children. 

"Josh's story is an example of the experience kids across Australia are sadly having every day," Dr Lalor said.

"Stroke changed Josh's grandfather and the relationship they had. At the time Josh struggled to understand what a stroke was and its implications both physically and emotionally. 

"This book provides children and parents alike with a better understanding of stroke, as well as practical advice on how to support loved ones affected by stroke."

Dr Lalor said one in six people would have a stroke in their lifetime and there was a growing need to support not only stroke survivors, but their family members. 

His grandfather has inspired  Josh to raise awareness for stroke victims and he is now preparing to ride 672 kilometres from Canberra to Melbourne, starting on December 6.

The teenager, who completed his first charity ride last year, hopes to use the ride to raise $20,000 for the National Stroke Foundation

"The most important thing is I want to raise as much awareness of stroke as possible because it is one of Australia's biggest killers and I also want to make my grandad proud," he said. 

Josh also wants to set up a foundation in his grandfather's honour.