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Health & Wellbeing

Fitness initiative bowls over Indigenous participants

AN INNOVATIVE new health and wellbeing initiative is bowling over our mature-age Traditional Owners and Elders.

Headed by IWC Indigenous Sport & Recreation Program Officer Jenny Springham, the Loving Life initiative incorporates physical activities that also have a strong social element. These include lawn and carpet bowls, aqua aerobics and low-impact exercise sessions.

“The initiative came about through consultation with Traditional Owners and Elders in both Bundaberg and North Burnett regions, and is a proactive take on how the Indigenous Sport & Recreation Program can be delivered in our communities,” said IWC Chief Executive Officer Ara (Julga) Harathunian.

“All of the activities are delivered in group sessions, which increases social inclusivity and creates a fun and engaging environment.”

IWC manages the Indigenous Sport & Recreation Program for the Federal Government across the Central Queensland region. The program is open to all Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and is designed to increase active participation in sport and physical activities, as well as community health and wellbeing initiatives.

IWC is non-government, Aboriginal community-controlled and a registered charity. It provides 27 services and programs.

“There has been a tremendous response to the Loving Life initiative, with almost 50 mature-age Traditional Owners and Elders taking part so far,” said Mr Harathunian.

The Loving Life activities started in February, and there will be a Lawn Bowls Competition next month that will involve all participants from both Bundaberg and North Burnett regions.

Participants are praising the initiative.

In group feedback provided after each event, the participants have been overwhelming positive, calling the activities “fun and engaging”.

Other comments have been: “We learnt something and it was good exercise,” and” it was good being all out together.”

One of the participants said: “This is the best thing that could have happened. I’ve told my doctor about it.”

In 2017, IWC held Skills Development Sessions in partnership with The Waves Sports Club for more than 40 Indigenous boys and girls aged 10-15, supported by the Indigenous Sport & Recreation Program. This led into pathways for ongoing health, wellbeing and sporting activities.