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Belgravia Leisure recognised for championing access, inclusion and combating mental illness

Belgravia Leisure recognised for championing access, inclusion and combating mental illness
May 17, 2019

Belgravia Leisure has secured two awards at the 2019 Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) VIC/TAS Awards.

Presented earlier this week, the awards included the Strategic Planning Award for their Access and Inclusion five-year plan and Community Based Initiative of the Year for their Take Charge® and Youth Take Charge® programs.

Belgravia Leisure has a vision that all Australians should have equitable access and inclusion in services, programs and facilities, embedded within the Australian ethos of a 'fair go'.

However, mindful that many people still experience exclusion from leisure, identifying this and using an evidence-based approach, Belgravia Leisure have developed and resourced an innovative five-year strategic plan to rectify this inequity.

Belgravia Leisure Chief Executive Nick Cox explains “as an organisation we have embraced Access and Inclusion and in doing so created a coordinator position at every leisure centre, ensuring we are supporting the diverse community and people with a disability.

“We see it as our responsibility to do all we can to connect those in need to the health and happiness benefits through regular use of their local leisure centre. I congratulate our local teams in the delivery of this vision.”

Belgravia Leisure’s identification of the serious service gaps that prevent people with mental illness accessing locally available best-practice programs lead to the development of their Take Charge programs.

These programs are evidence-based, confirmed through trials as creating improved health and happiness for those with mental illness. The pilot stage of the Take Charge has already generated $667,461 in social value, supporting over 300 adults and teenagers with fitness, health and wellbeing.

Recognising the program's potential, Belgravia Foundation, a charity focused on reducing barriers to participation in sport, aquatic, fitness, recreation and health programs, is implementing Take Charge across Australia and New Zealand, leading the work on refinement, research and scale up into the industry.

Belgravia Foundation Chief Executive, Dr Jeff Walkley advises “after the success of this pilot, we are looking to launch the Take Charge program nationally across 120 leisure centres Belgravia Leisure manages.

“Mental illness is widespread across Australia and New Zealand, particularly among younger people.

By promoting Access and Inclusion and understanding the unique support needs of this group, it’s a great opportunity to contribute to the health of people in our communities.”

Alison Yung, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Mental Health, adds “exercise is an effective intervention in a range of mental health disorders. There is evidence that it reduces symptoms of depression and might even prevent the development of depression in children.

“What we need to do is to get better at engaging people with mental health disorders in exercise, and this is where the Take Charge program comes in.”

For more information on Belgravia Leisure’s Take Charge program go to www.belgraviafoundation.org.au/how-we-help 

Image: Fitness at the Belgravia Leisure managed Watermarc.

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