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In Shape Healthy Living Program

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The In Shape program is a health promotion program, organised by STARTTS and created in 2011 by the Fairfield City Council. The program aims to teach participants to make choices that will improve their lifestyles and lead to healthier living.

In Shape was designed to be used by bilingual health educators, and is available in 8 languages: English, Arabic, Assyrian, Italian, Spanish, Karen, Khmer and Vietnamese. The program is funded by the NSW government as part of the Healthy Communities Initiative.

The program is run over the course of 14 weeks. Each program ideally has a maximum of 20 participants. The STARTTS In Shape facilitator, Rocio Martinez,  has run 2 programs for the Spanish Community, and is currently running a program with the Mandaean community, with the help of an interpreter.

“I was staying home and not being happy. Inshape helped me look after myself, and have a fun time with other people just like me.”

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How does the In Shape program work?

Diet, nutrition and exercise are at the core of the program. The In Shape facilitator works with the participants to educate them about nutrition and diet, and about the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Lessons in cooking, food substitution and hygiene are provided .

An exercise regime is customized for the participants, many of whom are older, and have led sedentary lives. David Perez, the exercise officer, works on providing simple yet effective exercise plans using such exercises as Yoga, dancing and walking.

What does it involve for participants?

A meeting is held each week, during which the participants are encouraged to reflect on their current lifestyles, and to find ways to improve them. Each participant will set their own goals, under a principle called SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time limited). Progress towards achievement of their set goals is measured via health diaries, and through weekly information sharing and discussion.

For many of the participants, this provides a venue to not only focus on improving their health, but also a place where they can discuss underlying adverse factors that have contributed to their  current lack of a healthy lifestyle. For many, this stems from isolation, a sense of lack of community and belonging. These are discussed, and participants are assisted and encouraged to find tools to overcome these barriers.

Who is eligible for the program?

In Shape is for both men and women from refugee backgrounds. Participants can nominate themselves or be referred to the program.

Referring to the program

The high demand for this fantastic program means that STARTTS is looking to run the program in other languages. Please contact STARTTS if you would like to refer a client to this group program.