Article from Star Mail News By Mikayla van Loon
An all female led partnership for This Girl Can week has brought about the culmination of a number of free and low cost activities for the Yarra Ranges.
Inspiro, Yarra Ranges Council, Eastern Health, Belgravia Leisure, Reclink and Women’s Health East have joined together to host a range of events from 9 October to 15 October and on 19 October.
“This Girl Can is a VicHealth campaign which aims to address the barriers women, girls and non-binary people face when it comes to participating in physical activity and active recreation,” Health Promotion Officer at Eastern Health Casey Dykes said.
“So it’s about creating spaces for women, girls and non-binary people to feel comfortable and welcome to participate in physical activity.”
From an easy, casual group walk around Lillydale Lake on Thursday 12 October to low cost events at both Monbulk Aquatic Centre and the Yarra Centre and a come-and-try style afternoon for boxing, kayaking, dance and circuit exercise, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.
“We hope they feel empowered and comfortable to continue to participate in physical activity and active recreation,” Casey said.
“And have fun. Enjoy being active. Enjoy moving your body because they’re fundamental facts of health and well being, just having joy of movement,” Inspiro health promotion officer Megan McInerney said.
Knowing that women, girls and non-binary people often feel a sense of shame or embarrassment when it comes to exercise, these sessions aim to dissolve those feelings, as well as other barriers.
“It can be opportunity, it can be time, it can be fear of judgement, that cohort of people tend to often feel judged doing exercise in public,” Megan said.
“They don’t want to look sweaty, don’t want to look red, so it’s just really encouraging everybody in the community to enjoy being active, however, whenever, whatever that looks like for anybody, just to move their bodies.”
Eastern Health’s senior health promotion officer Emily Sykes said the pandemic also had a negative effect on some women regressing back into former gender stereotypes.
“An initiative like this is so important, especially after the last two years, where a lot of people retreated back into themselves,” she said.
“We saw a lot of traditional gender stereotypes be reinforced, creating more barriers and ways that people didn’t get involved with other sports and active rec outside of what they normally do.”
As the first time these organisations have come together for This Girl Can, Megan said the hope is it will continue and only get bigger each year.
“Hopefully it will be an ongoing partnership and we will work together to do more in the active rec space.
“It’s great that we’ve got a lot of really committed and proactive stakeholders together and we’re all committed to creating a really great event for all of the local women, girls and non-binary people in the community.”
Trying to support active behaviour outside of just the week of events, Casey said the collective organisations are looking to put together a guide on what groups, clubs and classes people can join.
“We are working on a resource that highlights those active recreation or physical activity options ongoing in our local area,” she said.
“We’ve broken it down into four different categories, Urban, Hills, Valley and Upper Yarra. We wanted to create a resource to help the impact to be ongoing in the community so that it’s not just a one off event.
“We want to keep that participation going because of the massive benefits that come out of active living, the social connection that people can get from it as well as reduce social isolation and just build your community spirit.”
For the first 20 people who register for a session at the Yarra Centre, they will receive a showbag and anyone who completes an evaluation survey goes into the draw to win a massage voucher.
Just a $10 donation to the Belgravia Foundation gets you access to the classes at the Monbulk Aquatic and Yarra Centre for This Girl Can week, with the Yarra Centre also offering free creche.
All the event information can be found here, www.inspiro.org.au/news/inspiro-health-is-proud-to-support-this-girl-can-victoria-2023/
Picture: MIKAYLA VAN LOON
Yarra Ranges Council's Gabby Golds, Reclink's Anthea Merson, Eastern Health's Casey Dykes, Yarra Centre manager Leslie Crimes, Eastern Health's Emily Sykes and Inspiro's Megan McInerney have partnered for This Girl Can week