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Helping with HEALing Matters

Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. But, regular physical activity is also recognised to help improve mental health, cognitive functioning and social connectedness.

As part of the new HEALing Matters initiative, our Barwon region has engaged a personal trainer to boost the fitness and activity levels of young people in care.

Healthy Eating Active Living Matters (HEALing Matters) is a program developed by the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, funded by the Victorian Government. The program aims to improve on not only the eating and physical activity habits, but also the wellbeing and life skills, of young people living in residential care.

Houses in the regions have recently started a weekly 45 minute feel good fitness session with the personal trainer. The fitness sessions were developed with input from the young people in care, who expressed interest in hiking, yoga, and circuit work.

Residential Care Coordinator, Stevie-Jane McMahon, believes the program will be a positive addition to the culture of houses in Barwon.

We are already really pleased with the positive food culture in our Barwon homes, as many young people are already eating at the table and participating in meal planning, and the meals are generally varied and home cooked. For us, introducing HEALing Matters is a fun and interactive way to maintain the excellent work that is already happening.

– Residential Care Coordinator, Stevie-Jane McMahon

Therapeutic practitioner, Luci Klendo, is helping drive the initiative to support young people in care in Barwon.

“We hope to embed a positive, proactive food culture in each home, and engage young people in physical activity to prioritise their health.”

Young people in care have generally experienced some form of trauma and many have problematic relationships with food. This could include eating disorders, poor diet and nutritional deficiencies. Supporting them to build positive relationships with food helps to set them up for a healthier lifestyle when they transition out of care.

Over the next six months, nominated carers will be taking part in online training to help implement a healthy food culture in each home.