In 2015-2016 the Health Champions was created aimed at acknowledging and activating the immense assets of our community that can, and do, enable and promote good health and wellbeing across Wyndham.
Health Champions was a partnership between Wyndham City and IPC Health and funded by the Victorian Government.
Health Champions aimed to recognise community members for their existing commitment to improving health and wellbeing in Wyndham, and share their stories to encourage and inspire others. Health Champions also aimed to support community members who are inspired to help improve the health and wellbeing of their community, friends and family but need support, training and resources to turn their dreams into a reality.
We are proud to introduce just some of our local Health Champions and to share their stories.
As a result of the initiative the Wyndham Health Champions Network was created to continue to support the community, you can find out more information by visiting and searching for Wyndham Health Champions Network on Facebook.
- Health Advocate
- Health Champion!
I was lucky to be connected to the Health Champions Initiative……….” - Angi
It is difficult to feel connected to community sometimes living in this country away from my family. I have really missed my children’s grandparents and saw that there were people all around me experiencing the same isolation and loneliness. That’s how my idea for the Seniors Project started. I saw that younger generations are missing out on relating to and gaining wisdom from older generations. I just wanted to help others who were experiencing a similar situation to me.
Idea for project
I had the idea for this project before I found ‘Health Champions’ but wasn’t sure how I wanted to start it. With support from the Health Champions Initiative I started a program to bring young people in school, and seniors in aged care together. The aim was to get the two generations to cook a three course meal together and have the seniors tell their stories to the young people, who would then document them.
Connected to Health Champions
I was lucky to be connected to the Health Champions Initiative as not only did I get project staff support for program development but support from other Health Champions who were keen to work with me on the project. This lightened the load and really helped me to manage the program. It didn’t all go completely to plan but the feedback from the participants was that the seniors and young people all enjoyed each others company and the majority said they should do it more often. I think the social interaction was fantastic for everybody. It was so uplifting for everyone.
I’ve learned a lot from my experience. A lot! I learned things about myself, what I’m able to achieve, even with English as my second language. I realised that I can do more than I thought and it has improved my confidence.
In the future I hope that the school picks-up the program and I’d love to encourage other schools to run it too.
- Health Advocate
- Support worker
- Health Champion!
“The Health Champions initiative has changed the lives of the community and empowered people to make healthy lifestyle choices...” - Malia
I got involved in Health Champions after receiving a flyer from the Wyndham City’s mailing list. With the support of the Health Champions Initiative I was able to create a program called ‘Rise Up’. Rise Up aims to encourage everyone, from our youth to our elderly, to rise up against Racism and Discrimination. Through workshops and information sharing we aim to explore and teach people concepts of unity and identity.
Initially I had some issues implementing my project, but got assistance from the Health Champion’s Support Workers from Wyndham City and ISIS Primary Care to develop my project. I have now implemented ‘Rise Up’ in the school that I work for, which is so exciting!
Health Champions is like an outlet
Health Champions is like an outlet for me. People discuss ideas and plans for their projects and I get inspired. I have learnt a lot and I am now healthier as a result. I made my own healthy lifestyle changes and am now eating better and exercising more. It’s always exciting for me to go to our monthly network meetings. We are all there with common goals and are in tune with our purpose. The network was also very good for me in regards to my own relationship building skills; I’ve become better connected to the community.
Impact on the community
Health Champions has had a huge impact on the community; supporting us to make positive choices and making a change towards a healthier lifestyle. As a network, we do so many things; cooking, gardening, cultural programs, support groups, exercise groups etc. It has really brought ordinary people together who were doing amazing things or wanted to do amazing things in the community. They wouldn’t have otherwise known about each other.
I also think the socializing was beneficial for me. The partnerships and friendships formed are fantastic. I think Health Champions should never cease. I believe the connections I made and the support I received from project workers and other Health Champions involved in the initiative assisted me to gain my current employment.
Into the future I want to see the network continue, to maintain connection with community, to get more Champions, new programs and to continue to fill the group.
For more information on ‘Rise Up’ contact Malia: 0414 967 687
- Health Champion!
“Thanks to Health Champions for this great opportunity as without their support this group may have taken much longer to commence..” - Tania
My interest in community support and being an active member in the community started when I became a member of a Women’s Support Group. I made new connections with other women who needed support and who in turn supported me. This instilled in me a passion to serve the community and prompted me to go out and obtain a Diploma in Counselling.
Shortly after, I bumped into a lady who had been a part of the Women’s Support Group and together; we decided to start up similar support groups in our local community. After researching and gaining knowledge of our local community needs, we realized that “Loss & Grief” along with obesity and health issues were all major factors that affected the Wyndham community.
Health Champions Initiative
We discovered the “Health Champions Initiative” while setting up the groups. We decided to get involved and from the first Inspiration Workshop, we knew that this was the ideal program for us. It offered opportunities for training, networking and connecting with likeminded people. Our fellow Health Champions are passionate, inspirational people who opened our eyes to many new ideas, as well as sharing their experiences, knowledge and resources. We were so fortunate to work with helpful and enthusiastic staff from Wyndham City and ISIS Primary Care. Thanks to Health Champions for this great opportunity as without their support our Group may have taken much longer to commence.
Grown as facilitators and counsellors
Throughout this journey we have learnt so much and have grown as facilitators and counsellors. We have had the great privilege to meet and create a safe environment for a group of women to share their stories and offer peer support. The women in the group feel connected and have grown as individuals. This group has been an avenue where they can discover their strengths, gifts and talents through different ways, such as: speaking, being heard, art therapy, journaling, meditation, music, goal setting; just to name a few.
In the future I hope to help create a centre for women in Wyndham. A place where women can come, access support groups and services, increase their skills, build their confidence and be nurtured.
For more information on this group contact: Tania 0423 051 686 or Vana 0439 381 051
Women’s Support Group for Grief & Loss
Thursdays 9.30am-12.30pm - Wyndham Park Community Centre - 55-57 Kookaburra Ave, Werribee.
- Health Champion!
“Starting a group is hard and Health Champions is a great way to start and connect.” - Vana
My interest in positive health and wellbeing started when I met Tania over ten years ago through a Women’s Support Group. Both Tania and I were facing a challenging time and together we realised that being involved in a group where we listened to other women’s stories and shared our own, in a non-judgmental and safe environment, helped us to grow as individuals and discover our own personal gifts.
The support group empowered us to further our studies and complete our qualifications in Counselling. We wanted to offer our community a space where women could gather, share and discover their talents. We thought that a Women’s Support Group was the solution. We heard about the Health Champions program during the planning phase of the Support Group. Meeting new people at the network meetings and learning about their projects and experiences gave us new ideas, provided us with structure and a direction. The group work during the Inspiration Sessions was inspiring and really helped us to connect with others. Health Champions is a great way to start your projects and connect with others.
Women’s Support Group
We commenced our Women’s Support Group in May this year. We have been privileged to meet and create a safe environment for a group of women to share their stories and offer each other peer support. The women report feeling more connected and have grown in their own development. Some of our participants are from non English speaking backgrounds and have found the group a supportive and welcoming place to be. It can be so isolating when you can’t speak the same language as others. Our group provides a space to be sociable, share stories, overcome language barriers and isolation issues.
Working with women is very empowering. We have demonstrated to them that it’s actually beneficial and healthy to care for themselves before others. The benefits have a flow on effect; by looking after themselves they are also taking better care of their family.
It has been a huge journey already but into the future we hope to continue making connections and see our group start in other locations. Eventually we want to set up a women’s centre where women can engage in activities and get emotional support.
Women’s Support Group for Grief & Loss
Women’s Support Group for Grief & Loss
Thursdays 9.30am-12.30pm - Wyndham Park Community Centre - 55-57 Kookaburra Ave, Werribee.
For more information on these programs contact: Vana 0439 381 051 or Tania 0423 051 686
Introducing Jamie and Sara
“We are all indigenous
to the earth, we need to take care of it and better understand our connection to it if we want to continue to sustain it” - Jamie
- Community leaders
- Health Champions!
My work on Wayapa has being growing organically for the past 12 years. I started because I wanted to encourage people to get outside and reconnect with nature, Wayapa is an Aboriginal wellness practice that incorporates meditation, visualization, movement and narratives to connect participants to the earth which then connects to their spirit and then to self.
Wayapa encourages people to look at their own culture, identity and belief system and draw positive energy from these. I think it provides people with a greater understanding of Indigenous perspective and presence. Wayapa facilitates the sharing of multicultural perspectives and brings people together through their beliefs, stories and connection to nature. This program helps remind us that we are all indigenous to this earth, we need to take care of it and better understand our connection to it if we want to continue to sustain it.
The sessions are suitable for everyone from all ages and backgrounds, and can be conducted in various settings (childhood centres, primary schools, workplaces etc). It’s also a great team building, wellness and mental health activity. It has so many applications, you can do with anybody, that’s the beauty of it.
I really like facilitating Wayapa as I can see the great effect it has on people, I truly enjoy seeing individuals getting an awareness of their own culture and connection. We get feedback like “you’ve changed my life” and “these sessions help me get out of bed in the morning”. Upon completion of our program, there was even a lady who was so moved that she said “for once in my life I feel connected to this earth”.
Sara and I want to share our messages with others, we are currently undertaking an instructional course so that we can teach others to run sessions. We hope to develop a practitioners course and create some online courses and sessions. My dream is to walk through a park one day and see someone doing Wayapa, go up and ask them about it and have them explain what it is back to me.
For more information contact Jamie: 0411 712 948 or Sara: 0488 767 761 www.wayapawuurrk.com.
“Our group is about having fun and meeting other people interested in cycling, we aren’t all out to become the next Cadel Evans."
- Fitness Advocate
- Health Champion!
I started cycling to keep fit and wasn’t keen on going to the gym or doing lots of running. I wanted to teach my kids the importance of keeping active. Initially I started riding with Point Cook Cycle Group, which I really enjoyed, but found the distance from home was taking up a lot of my time. I decided we should start our own group closer to home. So we started Manor Lakes Cycle Group.
To keep everyone connected and inform people in our community about our group we created a Facebook page where we post local information and scheduled ride details. We began the group with around 15-20 people and now have 45. In the future it would be great for our group to go up to 100-200 people.
Building Blocks Leadership program
Not long after we started the cycle group a friend mentioned to me the ‘Building Blocks’ Leadership program run by Wyndham City, I thought participating in this could help me develop ideas on how to run the group and encourage others to attend. I undertook the program in 2014 and it helped me think about how to be more inclusive, how to access grants and how to get more people to join the group.
Wheel Women Wyndham
Through ‘Building Blocks’ we were able to get some funds to run a new ‘Wheel Women Wyndham’, aimed at improving confidence in all different facets of riding (e.g. safety, bike maintenance). The idea for the program came about when I was trying to talk my wife into going out for a ride and she told me she didn’t feel confident enough to go riding on her own. After this conversation I noticed that we had a lot of women who were members on our Facebook page but they weren’t turning up to rides. I thought that a women’s program would be something positive and could build confidence. In the future we would like to run some more, not just another women’s program but perhaps a kid’s safe riding program or a ‘ride the night’ event.
I think cycling aids people to keep active and improve their fitness as well as providing other benefits such as saving money. People are more inclined to ride than drive if they are confident on the road. I want to provide an opportunity for a wide range of people to participate, no matter what their riding habits or abilities.
I encourage anyone in the Wyndham Vale area to join our group; anyone who can ride can join our group. All are welcome. The wider range of diversity in the group means the wider range of organised rides we can offer our members. We do various types of rides; from 5:30am 40km rides up mountains, to family rides and shorter rides down to the local coffee shop. Our group is about having fun and meeting other people interested in cycling, we aren’t all out to become the next Cadel Evans.
To join just go to our Facebook page, Manor Lakes Cycle Group, come along to one of our rides and meet some great people.
“It’s great for getting to know your local area better. There are parks that I didn’t know about until I started walking with the group”
- Social organiser
- Health Champion!
I wanted to do some gentle physical activity and I remembered seeing an email advertising a walking group from the Arndell Park Community Centre so I went along and found I really enjoyed it.
After attending for a little while I was asked to take over leading the group, this included meeting and greeting the people and organising the walks. I have organised and coordinated events in the past and I felt it was something I could do so I agreed. It was good because it made me commit to attending the walk every week. The group itself is great for many reasons; it’s good for meeting new people; it’s also great for getting to know your local area better and of course it’s a great form of exercise.
There are parks that I didn’t know about until I started walking with the group and I found I met lots of people from my local area. I really enjoy meeting new people and I’ve found that being part of the group has given me many social and physical benefits.
I have been leading the group since February 2014 but unfortunately I won’t be able to continue leading the group due to work conflicts. I hope to keep attending the group on a casual basis and that someone else is able to take the lead. It would be very sad if it no longer continued.
We currently walk from Arndell Park Community Centre, meeting at 9.30am on Thursdays; it’s a great time for mums, grandparents and guardians who have just dropped their kids off at school. Anyone can come along and join in the group.
To find out more about the Arndell Park Walking Group contact the Arndell Park Community Centre on Phone: (03) 8734 8911
“Our community is full of assets but many are hidden. Talking to people provides the opportunity to find them”.
Seven years ago I moved into a new area in Point Cook and wanted to get to know my neighbours. I was interested in doing something positive for the environment, so I found ‘Shoestring Gardening’ (a community organisation that promotes growing, harvesting and preparing fruit and vegetables) and attended my first workshop.
I enjoyed the experience so much I volunteered to assist them with other workshops. I also wanted to do something in my local Point Cook area as there were many new people but they didn’t get opportunities to talk and get to know one another. I wanted to do something that would provide that chance, so I organised a small event in a bit of green space in my neighbourhood, near a walking path so passers-by could join.
Wyndham City supported me to provide a sausage sizzle and I invited all the neighbours to come and meet each other and chat. There were people who said they have been living in the area for years but never met many of their neighbours until that day. It was great to connect with my neighbours and it has been quite important for me as I like direct communication and the internet isn’t quite enough to truly connect people.
In May this year, with the help of Shoestring Gardening and other groups, we made a herb garden in that green space. It was a small garden bed and it’s growing quite well now with many of the neighbours coming out to help take care of it. The next thing I am planning is to organise a small meeting to swap recipes and organise a roster for the garden as summer is coming and the heat will definitely impact it. I think this is a great additional option for people who don’t get the chance to access community centres.
Being able to build a network around the garden and share local information means people don’t have to venture too far from their homes. I think it’s important to connect people and improve the natural environment in your area. Sustainable living is not just the natural environment but includes a variety of things including our social networks.
For me it’s been a wonderful opportunity to talk to my neighbours and get to know them. Our community is full of assets but many are hidden. Talking to people provides the opportunity to find them and discover there are so many nice people. In the future, I hope to extend our garden and include more herbs and plants and keep the neighbours connected and tending the garden.
To find out more visit Shoestring Gardening.
“I feel as though a fell into it by accident with wonderful results. I love the work I’m doing with the group”
- Social Organiser
- Health Champion!
About 7 years ago my friend invited me along to a walking group she was leading, I found I really enjoyed it and after my friend moved interstate I offered to lead the walks. It is a wonderful group and I love volunteering in the community. I feel as though a fell into it by accident, with wonderful results. I think I have a caring nature and really like to interact with people so this group is perfect.
The group is great as it provides the opportunity for exercise, fresh air and social interaction. Lots of people need someone to talk to, for example those who have lost their partners or other family members, and the people in the group are so positive and really look out for each other. We also provide that extra support to each other, for example providing respite for people who have partners with dementia etc. Our group is very committed and even on rainy days we sit together and talk.
The group is wonderful for me; I love the outdoors, exercise and the social interaction that I get. I love helping people and this bunch are very inspirational. I have always wanted to do more community work and I love the work I’m doing with the group. I like seeing people improve, whether it is health-wise or even become more social than when they first started the group.
In the future I’d like to keep going strong with the group, the group members enjoy it so much that many of the members didn’t even want to stop walking over the Christmas break. We are always welcoming new members and I think it would suit all kinds of people; those wanting company or perhaps those who have lost partners. We have members who have been through it and they are great support.
Everyone is welcome; mothers with children; people in their 50s and 60s; those who may be recuperating from illness or rehab from surgeries. Unfortunately our walks are not wheelchair accessible as there are many uneven surfaces.
We meet once a week on a Thursday morning starting at 9.30am till 11am with a cuppa afterwards.
To find out more information please contact Lynn on (03) 9741 3758 or 0414 644 395 or email Buffy1950@dodo.com.au or Contact Iramoo Community Centre on (03) 8742 3688.
“I want to empower mums to feel confident and less confused by the hundreds of messages shown to them by the media”
- Nutrition Advocate
- Health Champion!
Since I had my twin boys I found that there was a lack of information and support for mums. I was concerned about what my boys were eating and, as I had limited resources, I had to teach myself to cook nutritious food. When I saw mums at supermarkets with trolleys filled with unhealthy food I was concerned. I felt that there should be more support for these mums. The messages parents receive about what is healthy and unhealthy for their children are overwhelming and sometimes contradictory.
Community Kitchen for mums and their children
So I decided that I wanted to start a Community Kitchen for mums and their children where they could learn cheap and healthy recipes, and the kids could play freely and interact with other children. After approaching a few places I spoke with Shoestring Gardening, at the Eco Living Centre, and they were happy to help me get started with one session a week. Since then we have grown and now have four “Ankle Biters” sessions running. I continue to get support from Shoestring Gardening and other volunteers.
During our sessions we cook a meal using healthier food variations and vegetables so mums can see how easy it can be to provide healthy meals. I want to empower mums to feel confident and less confused by the hundreds of messages shown to them by the media. I want to teach mums that they don’t have to listen to everything that is said and that they can make good educated decisions on what they and their kids eat.
Ankle Biters Program
I think the Ankle Biters Program assists the community by providing information on healthy eating, connects mums up with each other and assists to connect them with other local services via word of mouth. I get many benefits from sessions as well, I get to meet new mums, get out of the house and get some social time.
In the future I would like to be able to provide more sessions on a variety of food preparation such as cheese making and preserving. I’d like to empower other mums to start running some of the sessions and get some more volunteers to assist with sessions and child minding. I’d like to become better connected with other groups and services and be able to extend the hours we are open.
To find out more about the Ankle Biters Community Kitchen go to the facebook page: www.facebook.com/anklebiterscommunitykitchen.com or contact Shoestring Gardening on email@example.com or check out shoestring gardening
Introducing Judy and Peter
“We have at least six 80 year olds in our walking group. They are inspirational.”
- Local explorers
- Social Organisers
- Health Champions!
About 18 years ago we started as participants with what would later become known as the ‘Wyndham Walkers’ walking group. Originally the group was formed as just walking group but now there is also a more social and supportive aspect to the group. In 1997 when the volunteer position of group leader was vacant, I (Judy) volunteered to be the leader of the group. I felt I could do the job because I had previous experience with our bushwalking club. At that time we had about 35-40 members, these days the group’s numbers are a bit less with about 16 people. A number of people have had health problems but are remaining positive; the group has helped keep everyone motivated and provides support to those that need it. We have at least six 80 year olds in our group; they are inspirational in their enthusiasm for the group and its members. We are an all female group except for Peter and we would love some more male members.
Each week our walking group does different trips to walk different tracks. We like to keep it interesting for our members. Werribee is great for walking, even the new estates are great, we walk through the new ones as they are being developed and then we return 2 years later to see the finished product. It’s very amazing to see the progress over time. Some members of our group have been living in the area so long that they can tell us the history of all the places we go. One trip a member arrived and said “I know this place; over there is where they found the dead body,” it made for a very interesting conversation!
We continue to be passionate about the group because the people who attend are wonderful. The group is supportive and really take care of one another. The social benefits are extraordinary, especially for those who live alone or are carers for their partners and could use a bit of respite. We considered stopping when Peter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but believe it’s better for our mental health to keep attending while we can. In the future I will need help running the group as currently none of the other members feel that they can take on a leading role. It would be great to have some new members and some people willing to help out. I think the group is suited to people in their 50s and over, but most of our members are in the 70s and 80s.
To find out more information please contact Judy on: (03) 9749 2754 or 0410 729 388
“Everyone has a gift and it’s about helping them to discover it”
I am a founding member of Shoestring Gardening, which began in 2009, a community group that promotes the philosophy that it doesn’t have to cost the earth to feed ourselves. The group aims to help make the community healthier, safer and more connected by providing community members with the opportunity to learn about; growing, harvesting and preparing fruit and vegetables, keeping chickens, worms and bees and more recently all about cultural foods and cooking. We are based at the Eco Living Centre in Wyndham Vale.
I do it because I believe it’s important to give back to my community, to walk the talk and led by example to help create a connected community. Sustainability is about thinking globally but acting locally. Through my work I hope to inspire people and share my knowledge but most importantly it’s about having fun and being connected.
Shoestring tries to show people just how easy and affordable home gardening and sustainable practices can be but also give them the confidence and opportunity to get involved, share their skills and lead programs and activities. I believe everyone has a gift and it’s about helping them to discover it. There are inspiring people everywhere in our community; some of them just need a hand-up. Many families, children and young people are losing basic skills such as cooking and gardening, our volunteer led programs aim to address these needs by providing opportunities to learn or relearn these basic life skills.
Our volunteers inspire me and I get a lot of personal satisfaction in helping them discover their own skills and passions. It’s my hope that Shoestring continues to grow, that we can be financially sustainable, that there are more of us doing what we are passionate about and we are acknowledged for it.
I encourage everyone to try gardening, harvesting and cooking and of course come join in on the fun with us at Shoestring Gardening.
To find out more visit Shoestring Gardening Inc.
“I believe it’s important for everyone to get out and keep active, it helps to keep people busy and provides opportunities to socialise and meet new people”
I have always been a very active person, into sport and socialising. When I retired I decided to put an ad in my local newspaper to start a coffee group. I had a few people show up and invited other people if I saw they were on their own, or I thought they might be interested in joining our group. We have an average of 20 people these days.
It was during one of the coffee groups that people talked about their interest in crafts and suggested I start a craft group. So that group formed and continues to this day. It was from this group that a walking group was proposed. We have about 25 people listed on our Heart Foundation Walking list and I walk 5 days a week Monday to Friday.
I have lived in Point Cook for 11 years and the number of activities I have been involved with has grown over time. I enjoy giving back to the community and am a committee member for Cancer Council’s Relay For Life and the Jamieson Way Community Centre. I have received awards for my volunteering including Julia Gillard’s ‘Above and Beyond’ Award and recently the Lalor Heroes Award.
I am passionate about the groups and activities I do because I like to see happy people. There are so many lonely people who are deeply unhappy because they don’t have anyone to talk to and these groups can help by providing that chance. People tell me they love the activities and that makes me want to continue to do them, it also provides me with social and health benefits.
Five years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes, but told the doctor that I didn’t want to go on medication straight away as I was going on holidays. While away, I decided to start walking more and eating better and by the time I went back to the doctor a month later I had improved so much I didn’t need to go on medication. I believe it’s important for everyone to get out and keep active, especially seniors and the newly retired; it helps to keep people busy and provides opportunities to socialise and meet new people.
Just some of the activities I organise are Coffee Fridays; Coffee Chat, Chuckle & Craft every Thursday and lunch every second Monday; walking every weekday; Tai Chi; Computers for beginners; bus and train trips
If you are interested in coming along to any of our groups or activities, contact Bev on 0417 324 179 or 0417 324 489 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s important to remain active and social for your health and wellbeing”
I think it’s important to remain active and social for your health and wellbeing. After my triple bypass, I went through cardiac rehabilitation at ISIS Primary Care. The staff suggested I join a walking group to assist with my rehabilitation. The group had been going for about 6 months before I attended, and over time we have become a close knit group. Previously there was a bag that was handed around the group monthly so everyone could take a turn being organiser. But at the end of my month, no one else wanted to take over. People suggested I continue so ever since I have been the organiser of the ‘Werribee Plaza Pacers’.
Werribee Plaza Pacers
We meet on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at Werribee Plaza and the number of people attending can vary; we have 70+ people on our list, but usually get around 30 attending walks and our outings. Lately there have been less people attending due to the construction work at the Plaza, but we hope when that finishes, there might be some new interest. We also have social outings to different places about 6 times a year.
I like attending the group because of the great people who attend - it gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and the building provides a safe and comfortable place to walk all year around. I also go to ISIS Primary Care and chat to people undergoing cardiac rehabilitation to see if they want to join our group, as it provides an opportunity to get some exercise and socialise with others in our community who may be recovering from similar injuries or just with people who enjoy walking.
We are always happy to accept new people into our group and I hope at some point in the future I will be able to pass the bag on to the next organiser.
To find out more about the ‘Werribee Plaza Pacers’ please contact Lynden via the Werribee Plaza on 9749 5111.
“Joining a walking group is free, so while saving money I’ve also made new friends”
I think getting outside, staying active and being social are the best ways to stay healthy and happy. I moved down from Sydney a few years ago. I didn’t know anyone and that made life a bit lonely. One day I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for a walking group in Point Cook, so I went along. I met some people who were so nice and over time I made some new friends.
I now walk with the group 3 days a week. I ride my bike from home to Point Cook Town Centre, then walk with the group, and then ride my bike home. I really enjoy the exercise and it makes me feel energetic and happy. I would encourage more people to join us, as it helps you get the 30 minutes of exercise we need every day, as well as Vitamin D from the sun. I think walking helps many people get out of the house and socialize, which can help with depression and anxiety. I used to go to the gym but joining the walking group is free, so while saving money I’ve also made new friends. I think people of all ages should get out and start walking with family or friends or even join a walking group.
Free swimming lessons
Through the walking group I found out about the free swimming lessons that were offered at the Werribee Outdoor Pool last year. I didn’t know how to swim so was keen to learn and since then I love going for a swim, especially now that the council is building a new leisure centre near my home. I have also begun learning to knit from a friend I made at the walking group.
I would really encourage people to get involved in their community because you never know what you will find. We are supposed to be living in the most liveable city in the world so why not get out and into it!
I’m keen to do more and being part of Health Champions to explore how else I can get involved. I’m passionate about improving bike riding safety, particularly around Point Cook, so more people can ride.
“I enjoy helping people to become healthier and utilize their gardens, I like meeting new people and being a part of my local community”
I have spent a long time devoted to the health and wellbeing of my family and community. I found the benefits of an edible garden by accident. When I moved into my first home I wanted to start a garden to grow food, but my wife wanted pretty flowers. I had to combine the two.
Since then I have continued to gather information on edible gardens and I believe they are the best way to; grow your own food; have a positive impact on the environment; eat healthier and save money. I think people believe gardening is too hard or that they don’t have the time, but the alternative is allowing supermarkets to dictate to us what we eat. For example, there are 100+ types of apples but on average the supermarkets only offer 5 varieties.
I run courses and assist people with all areas of gardening including; how to start your edible garden; garden design; how to preserve your home-grown food (eg, freezing, pickling, dehydrating); bee keeping; making cheese and pruning and grafting fruit trees. Some of the most positive results from my courses and workshops has been seeing the people who are at first quite uninspired but who become really positive.
Shoestring Gardening and Werribee Heritage Park Orchard
I volunteer with Shoestring Gardening and Werribee Heritage Park Orchard, where we run free workshops. I also open my own home edible garden to show others how it works and how it creates its own ecosystem.
I continue to be driven to do this as I believe edible gardens have great benefits to the health and wellbeing of our community. I also enjoy helping people to become healthier and utilize their gardens and I like meeting new people and being a part of my local community.
I’d like to be able to continue to teach people how to create their own edible gardens, grow their own food and for them to pass on that information on to others. I hope to release a book in the middle of 2015 called ‘The Complete Guide to Edible Gardening.’
I also want to continue to volunteer my time at festivals, conduct my workshops and start a network through Wyndham City.
To get in contact with Craig, sign up for a workshop or enquire about consultation, visit his website edible gardens
“Although we can’t do as much as we did when we were younger, you’ve got to continue push yourself a bit harder”
I’ve been invested in health and wellbeing for a long time. In 1985 I took on the role of Health and Safety Rep at the Altona plant where I worked. As part of this role, in 2000 I initiated workplace health checks and it was through those that I discovered I had cancer.
The doctors came out to give information and talk through the simple tests the men should take. Afterwards some men from my team asked if I was going to do the tests too, so I thought I better and as it was, they came back positive. I was lucky it was detected early - proving you’ve got to wake up to these things. Keeping active is important for my wife and I, and we like to cycle and walk as much as possible. We’ve walked all over Australia and across the world. Although we can’t do as much as we did when we were younger, you’ve got to continue push yourself a bit harder. The trick when walking is to stride out.
Wyndham City’s Dog Walking program
I’ve been involved with Wyndham City’s Dog Walking program for 5 years. We always had a dog and after she died, we still wanted to keep walking but didn’t want to get another dog as we wanted to travel more. I looked through the volunteering booklet from council which lists all the different activities and we decided to get involved with the program. Now I walk at least 3 ½ km each day.
I think it’s great to see Wyndham City getting these programs together. There are a lot of opportunities out there. More people should volunteer and put a little back into the community. There are lots of rewards and you get out what you put in. You get paid in seeing people happy and the feeling of being satisfied.