Partnership delivers online exercise classes for District’s diverse communities
Children from two of Sydney Local Health District’s rapidly growing linguistically and culturally diverse communities are participating in online home fitness sessions to maintain their health and wellbeing during COVID-19.
Primary school students Jeena Chalise, 11, and her younger brother Pujan Chalise, 10, are among a group of Nepalese children joining a weekly 45-minute exercise class that’s broadcast via a video conferencing platform.
“Both of our children are active. It’s been harder for them to keep fit during COVID-19. So, it’s been very important for them to be able to participate in simple, fun exercises and games during these Zoom classes,” the children’s parents, Jiwan and Pooja Chalise, said.
The online classes were the brainchild of Wa’el Sabri, Senior Community Engagement Officer at the District’s Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub, in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19 safety measures.
The Diversity Hub had earlier begun a 12-month partnership with Fair Game Australia to provide age-appropriate fundamental movement and skills classes for both Nepalese and Bangladeshi school-aged children.
The family-centred classes aim to improve physical fitness and to boost social connections in the wider community.
Data shows more than 4000 people from Bangladesh and 6000 people from Nepal have settled in the District since 2006 – many of them families with children.
“When the COVID-19 outbreak began, we thought if the community can’t come to us, we’ll go to their living rooms,” Mr Sabri said.
“Fair Game Australia supported the idea to tap into technology to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“We’ve called the online classes Family Fun Time and have encouraged parents to join in too. It’s a different way to bring families together,” he said.
The feedback has been positive with up to 20 families participating in each of the weekly online classes during May.
“Sport is not only important for physical and mental health but also for social cohesion,” Nicki Bardwell, Fair Game Australia’s CEO, said.
“It’s been a fantastic collaboration. We’ve been able to continue to work directly with families during COVID-19. The children’s faces light-up when they see their friends online. They look forward to the class each week.
“We also share information about simple COVID-19 related health messages, like hand hygiene and physical distancing measures.
“We’ve had to adapt the program, but we can still run it – just in a slightly different way. So, it’s teaching the children about resilience too,” she said.