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Parks Week 2014: the community gets more Active in Parks

Thursday 20 March, 2014

Hundreds of people were out and about in March in the Barwon region to celebrate Parks Week, with activities aimed at different community sectors deemed a big success.

People and Parks Foundation Executive Director Sara Mirabella said the Barwon region’s Active in Parks program, now in its third year, continues to go from strength to strength. 

“We were delighted to sponsor Parks Week 3 – 9 March, with numerous activities taking place across the region.  It was a perfect time of the year for people to enjoy the natural environment, make new friends and reap the health benefits.”

“Involvement in Parks Week was a logical extension of the People and Parks Foundation’s partnership with the Medibank Community Fund: the perfect opportunity to highlight that getting active in parks helps build better health by enhancing physical and mental health and wellbeing,” she said.

The week long event was replicated in a variety of ways across Australia and New Zealand with people being encouraged into the many great parklands available to walk dogs, play with their children, relax, have picnics, meet up with friends and participate in exercise programs or organised bush walks – all making the most of the natural environment and its positive health impacts.

Some of the Barwon activities included group exercise in the park, Bellarine coastal walk, fishing for first timers, Tai Chi and bush group “come and try” days.    

“Playing outdoors is what I really want my children to be doing. It was great to meet other families living in my region,” said one participant.

Parks Victoria’s Acting Chief Executive Kate Millar said the Active in Parks, Healthy Parks Healthy People Program continues to represent the strong working relationship between community, health industry, private sector and government. 

“We look forward to encouraging more of these Healthy Parks Healthy People programs. I thank everyone involved in working together to address serious, preventable health issues by ensuring parks and nature are part of the solution.” 

A sample of recent activities:

Group Exercise in the Park

15 people were smiling and laughing after starting their week off with an exercise session at Barwon Valley Park Belmont. The group engaged in some light boxing and circuit work involving squats, push ups off park benches and some very effective exercises utilising resistance bands!!  “WOW I think I’m going to be sore tomorrow” said one participant who was all steam ahead with the boxing! 

Bellarine Coastal Walk

We were blessed with a perfect sunny morning and low tide as 20 people joined in for a beach walk from Ocean Grove to Barwon Heads and back.  “I wish I brought my bathers” and “What a GORGEOUS morning” were just a few comments from the group. Afterwards participants enjoyed a well-earned cuppa and fruit platter! 

Fishing

It was so great to see 11 people from the community, the majority of which had never been fishing before, come along to our session and cast a line to try their luck. Amongst the group were some refugees and new arrivals who were amazed by the beach setting as this was an entirely new experience for them.  Although we didn’t catch anything, the fishing was a HUGE hit!  “There are no fish out there” said one young man who didn’t understand why we couldn’t catch anything!!

Bush Group ‘come & try’

Golden Plains Shire held their first Bush Group and successfully engaged 42 children and 26 adults! This was an amazing turn out and plans are in place to see sessions replicated across the shire. 

For more information on programs and activities go to www.activeinparks.org  

ACTIVE IN PARKS is a Healthy Park Healthy People program of People & Parks Foundation, Barwon Medicare Local, Parks Victoria and G21. The program aims to connect people to parks and open spaces as a way of enhancing their physical and mental health. In the Barwon region, Barwon Medicare Local leads the operational management of the program. The Medibank Community Fund is the major sponsor of Active in Parks program. 

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