Across Coonabarabran, trainers have been dusted off and activewear has been purchased, as participants in the Healthy Town Challenge get moving.
Coonabarabran Health Council was successful in its application for the 2017 Healthy Town Challenge, which is run annually in rural communities across NSW.
Along with Cowra, Grenfell, Narrabri and Oberon, each town has received a $15,000 grant to foster healthier communities.
Locally, these funds have been put towards a timetable of free exercise classes, as well as the inaugural Mother’s Day Classic Run/Walk.
Each town is also competing for a further $5000 grant, with final results announced later in the year.
Only two months into the six-month challenge, close to 100 people have signed up to improve their fitness and lose weight.
Coonabarabran Health Service manager, Sue Berry, said she was thrilled with the response demonstrated by the local community.
“In 2016 we released a survey asking ‘what do you want us to do for you?’,” Mrs Berry said.
“The big things that came out of that survey were ‘mental health’ and ‘I want to lose weight and get fit’.
“So that’s why we went for this grant - to support people in their journey to achieve a healthier lifestyle.”
Mrs Berry said the list of healthy ideas and events scheduled was exhaustive and included a guest speaker from the National Heart Foundation, cooking classes, the Koori Cook- off during NAIDOC Week, and bike rides.
“Our hope with the exercise classes is to get people into the frame of mind of exercising regularly, because as you know, once you actually get into that frame of mind, you can keep going - it’s getting there to start with that is the biggest hurdle.
“We also need to look at things that we can sustain.
“We haven’t spoken with the cafes yet, but we’d like to float the possibility of putting a sticker on the menu that indicates the healthy options.
“If we get enough interest and ongoing support from the community, we are hoping we might be able to access some sustainable-type funding to extend the project.”
Looking to the future, Mrs Berry said a healthier town would also remove the burden from the local health care system.
Just do it
Registrations for the Healthy Town Challenge are still open.
“If you’re sitting on the fence, ‘umm-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing’ about whether to register for the challenge, I would say, just give it a go,” Mrs Berry said.
“You’ve got nothing to lose.
“It’s all about initiating small changes to your lifestyle through goals that you set.
“The mentoring service also makes you more accountable because you know that you’re going to get a phone call at the end of the week.When your goal was to exercise three times that week and you know someone is going to be calling, you are going to do it!”
The Healthy Town Challenge is an initiative of the NSW Office of Preventive Health and the Heart Foundation.
Marang Dhali and Aboriginal walking group participants, Margaret Robinson, Jill Cain and Arthur Wortley (pictured right), proudly present their whole-egg vegetable omelette with oyster sauce reduction.