18 August 2021

A culturally appropriate exercise group on the way for mums and bubs in Canberra's south

| Lottie Twyford
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Aerial view of Lake Tuggeranong

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs in Tuggeranong are set to get a new YWCA exercise group. Photo: Region Media.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and bubs in Canberra’s south will be able to access a culturally appropriate exercise group open to parents with preschool-aged children in the near future, after COVID-19 restrictions lift.

The YWCA-led project in Tuggeranong has been awarded a $10,000 Heart Foundation grant after it was named the winner of the foundation’s 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge.

The challenge invited community groups and organisations, as well as tertiary institutions, schools and councils, to submit their most innovative ideas for getting people in their communities moving.

According to the YWCA, there is a lack of facilitated, culturally specific physical activities for mums and their preschool aged children in Canberra’s south. This project seeks to fill this gap.

Post lockdown, it’s hoped the exercise group will meet for two hours a week and be able to provide a regular, reliable and safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children to take part in play-based activities.

At this stage, the grant will be put towards the development of a culturally appropriate activity program, as well as buying equipment such as mats, balls, a shade sail and Indigenous items such as clapping sticks.

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With a wider aim of improving attitudes and access to physical health, group participants will be encouraged to find ways to engage in physical activity beyond the group.

The Heart Foundation received 619 entries in the 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge – double the number of entries in 2020, and almost five times the number submitted for the first challenge in 2018.

Heart Foundation NSW & ACT heart health manager Anna Flynn explains that although the organisation is aware the initiative is growing in popularity, they were taken by surprise upon learning of the huge number of entries submitted in the 2021 challenge.

“The Heart Foundation could not be more pleased by this increased participation given around six in 10 people in the ACT are not active enough for good heart health,” she says.

Anna outlines that this is a concern given that being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease.

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“One reason for the spike in entries could be that the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked interest in physical activity at a grass-roots level,” she says.

“Being stuck at home for long periods is making everyone appreciate their communities more and think creatively about ways to stay healthy and active.

“During the four years we’ve been running this challenge, the Heart Foundation has awarded grants to 45 organisations nationally.”

Anna congratulates all of the winners, and says she is looking forward to working with YWCA Canberra to bring the mums-and-bubs project to life.

Previous grants have been awarded to accessible dancing nights, high-intensity exercise programs for workplaces, and a sensory garden for children with special needs.

Learn more about the exercise program in Tuggeranong, and see how you can apply for next year’s round of grants at the Heart Foundation.

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