Teen’s winning idea has community at its heart

Portable exercise kits to help a remote town get fit have won a Heart Foundation grant for Emmaville Central School, writes Vanessa Lahey.

Image: A lesson in innovation: Laura Carter and the equipment for her Fit Kits.

The remote town of Emmaville located in rural NSW is not somewhere you’d find a 24/7 gym or a regular Zumba class if you were looking for a workout.

With just one drought-affected recreation reserve, a seasonal swimming pool and a 100-kilometre round trip to the nearest fitness facility, there aren’t many options for exercise.

It was this situation that led Emmaville Central School student Laura Carter to devise a winning plan to help her community become more active, healthy and happy.

Laura’s solution was to purchase a variety of home exercise equipment and pack it into portable ‘Fit Kits’. An idea that won her this year’s Heart Foundation Active Australia Innovation Challenge.

“Emmaville is a low socio-economic community with an ageing population, of which 25 per cent are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background,” Laura said.

“Our community members have limited access to physical activities and services. As such, our community experiences high rates of physical inactivity and poor mental health.

“My goal for the Fit Kits is to overcome the existing barriers to exercise. School community members can borrow a Fit Kit free of charge to take home and exercise using the fitness tutorial provided.”

The criteria for the Heart Foundation’s Active Australia Innovation Challenge was for entrants to come up with an innovative way to get members of their community moving.

Laura was one of 19 successful submissions selected from around 600 entries nationwide - a figure equal to Emmaville’s population and double the number of entries received the previous year.

Laura’s proposal secured a $10,000 grant enabling the school to make Fit Kits a reality. Emmaville Central School Principal Gillian Davis said she felt Laura had a good chance of winning.

“I was aware the Laura had entered the competition and thought that she had an outstandingly brilliant idea,” Ms Davis said.

The school is throwing its support behind Laura to help spread the word about Fit Kits to the Emmaville community via advertising the initiative and how residents can access them.

“This is such a great opportunity for our community to improve their health outcomes,” Ms Davis said.

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