The South Coast town of Eurobodalla is splashing out this Thursday, in celebration of its win in the 2016 NSW Healthy Town Challenge.
It’s encouraging as many people as possible to join an attempt to set a new Australian record for the biggest aqua aerobics class in an indoor pool. It’s an active choice of celebration, but typifies the approach taken by Eurobodalla this year – to improve the health of its community.
NSW Director of the Centre for Population Health, Dr Jo Mitchell, said the town’s ability to get everyone involved was pivotal to Eurobodalla’s win in the Healthy Town Challenge.
"All of the participating towns did an impressive job in improving diet and overall exercise levels," Dr Mitchell said. "The Challenge encourages regional communities to take a collaborative approach – with businesses, schools and government and non-government agencies – to really make a difference to the well-being of their residents."
Five towns participated in this year’s event, now in its second year. Along with Eurobodalla, Cowra and Warren from Western NSW, Sanctuary Point from Illawarra Shoalhaven and Coolamon in the Murrumbidgee also took part. The challenge runs for six months and is open for towns outside greater Sydney. Participants are given a grant of $15,000 to implement healthy town initiatives and compete against each other for $5,000 prize money. It is a joint initiative of the NSW Office of the Preventive Health and the Heart Foundation.
To secure its win, Eurobodalla’s residents lost a combined total of more than 100kg in excess weight using the NSW Health Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service. The town also used existing resources within the community such as local businesses and schools to encourage healthier lifestyle choices, and local radio helped motivate with reminders of their goals in the Challenge.
Julie Anne Mitchell, Heart Foundation NSW Cardiovascular Health Director, said she was also impressed by the town’s installation of water stations to encourage people to drink water.
"All the towns that entered used different and innovative ways to engage their community in becoming healthier," Ms Mitchell said.
"In the case of Eurobodalla they actively supported the key message of ‘Make water your drink of choice’ by installing water bubblers across their local area with plans to have more installed in the future.
"We’d like to congratulate them on their win. We also would like to give a special mention to the small community of Warren who really got behind this initiative. They are a small community but they had over 100 people sign up to the Get Healthy Service."
Applications for the next round of the Healthy Town Challenge will be invited in October.