Tackling addiction, unhealthy habits and fear through holistic health program
Overcoming addiction, elevated self-esteem, weight loss and healthier lifestyles were among some of the remarkable results achieved by two, 10-week ‘boot camps’ for LGBTI community members in the Brisbane region.
The free OUTfit! Project boot camps founded by the Queensland AIDS Council were made possible by the Medibank Community Fund (MCF) who provided the charity with a $10,000 health and wellbeing grant last year.
More than 60 people aged between 16 and 55 participated in the boot camps and the supplementary weekend workshops which taught people how to buy fresh produce and cook nutritious, healthy meals for one.
Gai Lemon, Director of Healthy Communities Program at Queensland AIDS Council said the project aimed to address a serious health need in the LGBTI community.
“LGBTI people experience a range of health and wellbeing issues such as obesity, low-levels of exercise and poor nutrition disproportionately to the wider community. We’re passionate about proactively tackling these health issues and our MCF funded boot camps were a way we could make a serious difference in the lives of participants”, said Ms Lemon.
There were a number of positive outcomes that came out of the boot camps and workshops with participants not only experiencing weight loss but higher levels of confidence and overall happiness from being involved. A decrease in anti-social behaviours related to excessive alcohol consumption was also noticed along with a reduction in binge drinking and subsequent hang overs throughout the 10 week morning boot camp.
“The project focused on gains in the lives of the participants since beginning the boot camp, rather than how many kilograms had been lost which really enabled participants to celebrate acquiring a confident and positive mindset. One person also celebrated kicking an addiction and finding support amongst newfound friends,” said Ms Lemon.
However, the project didn’t come without its challenges.
“There was a lot of unforeseen resistance to the term ‘boot camp’ with individuals feeling as though they were not up to the base level of fitness implied by the term and were scared off the program. One strategy used to tackle this was asking people to come along to watch an initial session, and subsequently to join in if they felt comfortable to do so which was really effective,” Ms Lemon said.
Laz Cotsios, Medibank Chief Customer Officer said the project took a holistic approach, teaching participants how to achieve and most importantly maintain a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally.
“This is the first time we provided support to bettering the health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community through our Medibank Community Grants program and we are incredibly proud of the health outcomes that have come out of the boot camps in such a short period of time”, said Mr Cotsios.
“The Queensland AIDS Council shares our passion for better health and their project is a true expression of their commitment to creating healthier communities through inclusive, relevant, supportive and engaging wellbeing programs.”
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