Sport Whanganui’s Active Wellbeing team working wonders


Sport Whanganui’s Active Wellbeing team is a group of enthusiastic health professionals and kaiawhina who specialise in supporting people to manage their health conditions. Led by the needs of our communities in Whanganui, Ruapehu, and the Rangitīkei region, the team works with individuals and groups to improve wellbeing, social connectedness and link participants into local services.

Through programmes such as Green Prescription, Active Families/Active Teens, Fit for Surgery, and Hauora ki te Mahi, clients explore what health and wellbeing changes are important to them and have an opportunity to work closely with a support person to plan and realise their own solutions for change.

These successful programmes are free and available to communities in Whanganui and the wider region. While the focus is on physical activity and all the benefits it brings, other services support people to improve their health and wellbeing, such as healthy eating, mental wellbeing and increasing connection with others in their communities.

Darren Wallace, Green Prescription Kaiāwhina facilitates “Active Teens”, a programme of regular weekly sessions at the Splash Centre gym for rangatahi aged 13-17 years.

“We have teenagers who have anxiety, issues with their weight, or other challenges they are faced with. It’s about being there to aid them in their goals to becoming more active.

“Exercise helps to boost their self-confidence and as time goes by, they learn about self-discipline, respect for others and to be happy in what they are doing and where it can take them.”

Darren also attends placement days at Te Oranganui through the “Health and Wellbeing” programme at Te Pūkenga, working alongside the organisation to support tangata whai ora, or those in need of care or going through treatment processes in mental health.

“Believing people can find their strengths and recover with whānau is the key and services include supporting people with mental health needs and encouraging new skills and experiences in the community,” says Darren.

Since joining the Active Wellbeing team, Ceinwen Pa’a, our registered nurse navigator for the “Fit for Surgery, Fit for Life” programme, has enhanced the service by taking a holistic approach to address the physical, emotional, and social needs of her clients. Having surgery is tough on your body and Ceinwen prepares her clients for the event by encouraging moving and getting as much regular exercise as possible, as well as eating well.

“Six clients have had surgery so far this year and another two clients have chosen not to have surgery as their pain has decreased and they found they are moving better, having reduced their weight,” says Ceinwen.

Hauora ki te Mahi is another support programme looking to improve overall wellbeing through physical activity, specifically for Whanganui job seekers. Wellbeing coach Rachael Lynch receives referrals from Work and Income and so far, 47 per cent of people who have completed the programme have gained employment, with 30 total referrals using a range of different gyms in the community.

Community relationships are key, and the team is incredibly appreciative of the support of the GPs, health professionals, and community services who refer clients to their programmes.

Article posted 26 April 2023 by sportwhanganui