Along with providing safe and secure homes for nearly 400 people in our region, Havelock House is calling for volunteers to help with its new community sporting program, which aims to develop the physical and mental wellbeing of its residents.
Havelock House has been a trusted part of the Canberra community for 70 years, providing community housing and support to vulnerable people in the ACT, including those on very low incomes or who have high and complex service needs, including disability.
Havelock House community development team member, Rebecca King, said she is bringing all her energy and enthusiasm to the program which is based on creating community confidence and social skills.
The new Building Communities Physical Activities and Sport Program was funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health, Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity Grant.
It was while studying sport in Canada that Rebecca came to “truly understand” its power in creating long-term and sustainable change.
“Sport is the tool to create social inclusion and empowerment,” she said.
The program began from residential feedback and has already established a tennis coaching program and a bike riding and maintenance club.
Rebecca said both programs were popular and now they were looking to expand the program and believed it was important to involve the Canberra community.
Resident Peter (not his real name) said his favourite activity so far was the tennis and admitted he’s no Nick Kyrgios – he is even better, he joked.
“Let’s see what he’s like when he’s my age!” Peter said.
At 77 years of age, he has a point.
“The thing I love most about Havelock House is the friendly environment,” Peter said.
“From the first moment I stepped in, I felt very welcome; before that I felt lonely.
“When Bec invited me to join the activities I felt here is someone special who is inviting me to join a group along with other people so now I feel not so alone.
“It is good to be able to mix with the other residents in a social and active way.”
Fellow resident Afnan said the program was such a good thing for the whole community.
“There are 100 people living here with diverse needs and wants,” Afnan said.
“It needs a mutual link – something that pulls it all together – and sport does that.
“I think it helps me mentally and emotionally – and of course physically.
“It introduces me to new friends, new ideas and new activities.
“I have explored new activities I would never have done on my own – the encouragement and compassion by the organisers has helped me to be bold and brave.”
Rebecca said she is never one to shy away from a challenge and is always looking for like-minded individuals to join as volunteers, as well as businesses and sporting organisations who might want to collaborate on co-designing a new physical activity program for the residents of Havelock House.
“You don’t need to have special skills but of course, if you have a knowledge of and or an interest in a particular sport, I would love to hear from you,” Rebecca said.
“The program allows us to support residents to be physically active in a way that suits their interests and abilities.
“It is so rewarding to see people achieve things they thought they couldn’t do.
“Sometimes it’s hard to do new things on your own, but with others encouraging and supporting, new skills are learned and new friendships created.
“And it’s great to watch.”