In partnership with the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation, Watergardens Town Centre is delivering the ‘Sons of the West’ (SOTW) program to western Melbourne, an initiative that aims to build the profile of physical and mental health in men through activating community support.
In an area where around 52% of residents are classified as obese or pre-obese, 50% don’t meet dietary guidelines, and more than half report they don’t feel valued by their community, the SOTW program aims to break down barriers to participation and access to assistance that so often prevent men from addressing health issues in their own lives.
As part of Watergardens' sponsorship for SOTW, the Centre worked in partnership with the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation to roll out a community week to help promote the cause and to gain new members.
The program has rolled out a range of initiatives for the community, including:
Encouraging community leadership also plays a key role in the program, supported by a number of senior staff from Watergardens Town Centre’s management team who recently gave up their time to take part in a SOTW careers expo providing mentoring to the future leaders in the local area.
The program has seen ongoing benefits, with 1176 men participating in health and physical activity components of the program in 2016, and more than 97% reporting that the SOTW program encouraged them to make changes in their life to better their health.
Just as powerfully, the SOTW program has helped build community attitudes, with 89.3% of participants reporting they felt the program enabled them to feel like part of their community.
In a community where AFL plays a significant role in the local ethos, the program’s high-profile backing provides strong cut-through, alongside additional benefits including a highly-anticipated opportunity to provide an appearance of the AFL Premiership Cup at Watergardens.
General Manager of the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation Kashif Bouns said the program has made real inroads to encouraging long-term change in the Watergardens community.
“It’s about creating opportunities, building friendships, fostering leaders and growing the community bonds to provide a supportive, sustainable attitude to men’s health.”