Young leaders activated

Young leaders activated

Young leaders from across the Limestone Coast learnt how to move, nourish, appreciate and be kind to their bodies last week with high-energy youth event ACTIVATE by Embrace at the Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre.

ACTIVATE is an initiative of The Embrace Collective, the health promotion charity run by 2023 Australian of the Year Taryn Brumfitt and international body image expert Dr Zali Yager.

The free event brought together 52 young people in Years 7-9 to help them build better body image in a fun, empowering setting.

It is the second time the event has been held in a regional area following a successful event in Albury Wodonga late last year, with another event planned for Port Lincoln in April.

The Embrace Collective marketing and events coordinator Claire Groves said children in Years 7-9 were easily influenced about body image, so it is important to ‘get in early’ with positive messaging.

“The charity is about prevention, so really trying to get in early with those messages for kids so they do not end up adults who hate their bodies or move their bodies for punishment or who have really bad relationships with food,” she said.

“The event is all about getting kids to appreciate their bodies, to focus on functionality rather than what they look like, to be kind to themselves and other people and to recognise real role models on social media.

“We are all in control of who we follow, so we are really trying to talk to kids about looking for real role models rather than comparing other people’s Instagram life to real life.

“It is not just the kids today that are effected, but hopefully the teachers take it and roll the classroom program out in their whole school.”

ACTIVATE was funded by the SA Primary Health Network through a Rural Health Innovation Fund grant.

Attendees watched the EMBRACE KIDS film and participate in a series of body image workshops including a nutrition workshop by local nutritionist Nikita Wasson and a body image self-education workshop run by Maeve Slonim from The Flourish Journey.

Mrs Groves said a highlight for the kids was getting to work on a special mural on the wall of the Mount Gambier Library, to ensure the Embrace message lives on long after the event has finished.

“The council has been extremely generous and has provided us with some staff and done all the prep for the space,” she said.

“The groups have gone down there and spent an hour contributing to this mural and the intention is we leave it behind in the community as a constant reminder and something the kids have been involved in.

“We are just so happy to be in Mount Gambier and really grateful to the council for its support, it has been really helpful.”

While the kids were having fun, around 25 teachers, parents and other stakeholders attended a professional development session with The Embrace Collective’s education programs manager Hannah Mellier about spreading the Embrace message in the community.

Parent and teacher Jacinta Clarke attended the event and encourages more parents and teachers to “embrace” the positive body image messaging.

“As a teacher, I will be employing this learning in my health class next semester but it all starts at home. If parents are not continuing with this messaging, it will not work,” she said.

“The ultimate goal is to change societies’ expectations around body image and while we are not there yet this is a positive first step.

“I hope the community embraces this and I strongly encourage other parents to attend if the same forum goes ahead next year.”

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