Empowering communities to develop healthy eating and active living initiatives

Empowering communities to develop healthy eating and active living initiatives

IPC Health are supporting priority population groups in Wyndham, Hobsons Bay and Brimbank to co-design innovative healthy eating and active living initiatives.

In 2022-23 IPC Health worked with community groups to design and deliver their own solutions to improve participation in physical activity and adoption of healthy eating practices. Each project idea was assessed to ensure it met evidenced-based criteria as well as having the capacity to positively impact community health outcomes.

IPC Health undertook a deliberative process to help inform and strengthen project ideas. The benefits of this included:

  1. Linking community leads with other stakeholders in their local areas.
  2. Identifying any risk and sustainability concerns.
  3. Considering opportunities to leverage or learn from previous similar initiatives.

Seven community-led initiatives (four active living and three healthy eating) undertook this process. One of the successful active living projects, Walking Netball is a low-impact and social recreation activity designed to be a gentler way to participate in organised sport. IPC Health provided seed funding to Wyndham Netball Association to pilot a 10 week program. Through this partnership, Wyndham Netball Association was able to provide a low-cost beginner’s level program to help gauge interest before investing further resources. The initial success of the pilot led to an extension of the program with increased numbers of participants, whereby the club is now requiring an additional court to meet demand.

A significant proportion of the walking netball participants to date are in the 35 years and over age category, with many initially reporting that they thought netball was now beyond them. The program has reinvigorated their love for a sport they played through their youth and young adulthood.

Pre- and post-survey responses from 16 participants highlighted that most ranked their self-assessment of physical health, emotional health and life satisfaction as higher after participating in the program.

Some of the participant feedback included:

  • “I am not confident around people I don't know but I have found that walking netball has improved this as well as my state of mind. If I am having a tough week, it is nice to know that I have Thursday night walking netball as a way to reset yourself with a good laugh.”
  • “I enjoyed being able to participate in netball again.”
  • “My physical and social confidence has increased. Mentally, it is helping with keeping a sharp, sporty mind.”

With the success of these programs and in particular Walking Netball, IPC Health encourages other community health services to adopt similar co-design seed funding approaches to support innovative community-led initiatives.

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