When Wickham woman Jordyn Merritt takes on one of the world’s biggest marathons after an intense six months of training, she will be doing it with a view to inspire young people from her community back home.

The mother-of-three and Roebourne District High School Aboriginal and Islander education officer was last month selected as one of 12 people nation-wide for the Indigenous Marathon Project, a program which trains indigenous people of all running abilities to compete in the New York City Marathon.

Merritt, 29, said she had learnt about the project through the experience of Natasha Leslie, a 2017 IMP graduate from Karratha with whom she had since trained.

Finding the concept inspiring, she tried out for the program last year, and when she missed out, she made the decision to develop herself and try again the next year.

“When I didn’t get in, I thought, ‘well, I’m going to work on myself and try and get through my issues and find that change in myself, so that I’ll be better prepared next year,’ and I think that I did that pretty well,” she said.

“I quit smoking, I’ve given up alcohol and just worked through some personal issues that I’ve had … by taking the lessons out of them and learning from them.”

Merritt said getting into the program was a huge personal achievement. She said she hoped her time with IMP would inspire the Roebourne and Wickham students she worked with to live a healthy life-style and dream big.

“I want to do this just to show people that if I can get through everything that I’ve been through in my life, then so can you,” she said.

“If you’re going through tough times, it doesn’t have to just end there.

“You can still pick yourself up and turn your life around.”

Leslie said Merritt’s drive to better herself was impressive.

“There’s a few hundred people that apply every year and only 12 get selected, so those people like Jordyn that come back and re-apply really have great strength and determination and resilience to never give up,” she said.

Merritt and the rest of the IMP squad will undertake a rigorous training and education program over the next six months including courses in sport and recreation, first aid and mental health.