Anglicare’s ‘Starting F.R.E.S.H.’ program is making a real difference in the lives of young people in Wagga Wagga, aged 12-17 years, by reducing the risk of mental illness, and providing exercise and coaching to promote positive mental and physical health.
The service commenced last year following funding from the NSW Department of Justice designed to support at risk young people to develop skills in four target areas: character and leadership development; health and life skills; sports, fitness, and recreation; and education. Anglicare’s regional manager of Child, Youth and Family Services, Kristy Daley, says the COVID pandemic has added further stress in the lives of young people who were already vulnerable, and that promoting positive mental health has become the focus of the initiative.
“Because of the pandemic, students have lost the structure provided by face to face schooling and often don’t have the parental support they need to cope,” says Daley. “We want to reduce risk factors that can lead to the development of a mental disorder. Many young people we work with through this program have experienced increased isolation, depression and loneliness. Many also report exercising less and experiencing sleeping difficulties, reduced well-being and overall dysregulation, which has affected school, family relationships and mental health.”
The Starting FRESH program seeks to promotes positive mental health by focusing on physical health and exercise to develop resilience, integrity, self-esteem and empowerment in a young person, engaging them with their communities, schools, peer group and families in a manner that is productive and constructive.
The program works in partnership with three local high schools in Wagga Wagga along with the Indie School, who identify young people who may benefit from the additional support provided through ‘Starting F.R.E.S.H.’
Already 30 to 40 young people participate each week through four weekday morning sessions and one-to-one sessions with a trained youth worker. Parents, teachers and young people are reporting positive differences, and Anglicare is seeking to extend the program to reach even more students in need.
For more information about Anglicare’s ‘Starting F.R.E.S.H.’ service, visit www.anglicare.com.au or call (02) 6937 1555 for more information.