MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Ashley Simpson (Waves Coach)and Stirling Eggmolesse (IWC Director) talking to the youngsters about the program at the meet and greet on 11 February.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Ashley Simpson (Waves Coach)and Stirling Eggmolesse (IWC Director) talking to the youngsters about the program at the meet and greet on 11 February. SImon Young

New youth health initiative

THIRTY-SIX Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth aged 10-15 are taking part in a new skills development initiative being run jointly by health and well-being organisation IWC and Waves Sports Club.

The first of the five sessions was over the weekend, with rugby league greats and Waves coaches Antonio Kaufusi and Ashley Simpson driving the initiative in partnership with the IWC.

The sessions provide kids with skills development in the areas of physical fitness, self-esteem and relationship building, diet and nutrition, and reaching personal goals.

The program has been created by the IWC's Community Services, which includes a Youth Program, Men's Group, Indigenous Sport & Recreation Program and an Alcohol & Other Drugs Program.

Recognised by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the front cover of the PM's 2017 Closing the Gap Report, for its work in improving the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples in our communities, the program is already in full swing.

IWC director, Stirling Eggmolesse said the sessions were designed to build awareness within Indigenous youngsters around key areas of health and well-being.

"This includes physical and emotional well-being, understanding of the value of peer and intergenerational relationships, and achieving aspirational goals,” he said.

"This aligns completely with IWC's whole-of-person approach to health and well-being, which is based on a transformational model.

"The 10-15 year old youngsters, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are a 'turning point' age group, and one which often is overlooked. But it also is an age when many youngsters lose sight of personal dreams and aspirations. This makes it a key point at which the right support and encouragement can transform a young life.”

"It is a fact that indigenous people die at 1.7 times the rate of non-indigenous peoples, and that there are threefold mortality rates among indigenous 12-24 year-olds compared to non-indigenous young people.”

Mr Eggmolesse this is a program being driven by community need to deliver early intervention support and guidance for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Both Mr Kaufusi and Mr Simpson have impressive resumes, with Mr Kaufusi having represented Queensland and the Exiles, and played for both Australia and Tonga and Simpson has played hundreds of NRL games.

Drawing on their extensive experience, and IWC's knowledge of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, they have created a dynamic program which will deliver five sessions, each involving 10 activities.

"It's about getting kids involved in sport, getting them out,” Mr Simpson said.

"I have seen over many years the difference it can make.

"It's great for physical health, mental well-being and building bonds of friendship that last a lifetime.”