A Healthy Lifestyles Program is set to begin in Narrandera and an information session about the program will be held tomorrow at the Ex-servicemen’s Club.
The program will be run by the Visions Consultant and Development Group, which was begun by former NRL player Wes Patten.
While Mr Patten grew up in Redfern, his mother is from Narrandera, and Mr Patten has family in the area. It was Mr Patten’s family that inspired him to bring the program to Narrandera.
“My little cousin, Callum Lyons, committed suicide about a month ago. And then we were back here for another funeral not long after. Another cousin of mine, her baby was stillborn.
“We were driving away after the funeral and I said, we’ve got to go back and do something positive.
“They’re screaming out for something to happen. We’re going to get some activities going, give people something to do. A lot of drug taking is boredom.
“I went and spoke to Neville [Bamblett] at Bidgee Boxing. With all my contacts in Sydney I figured I could bring in some people to help. We need to give them something more positive.”
Mr Patten hopes he can combine several programs which he is already involved with and create something more large-scale for Narrandera. Titled You are Welcome, Mr Patten wants to see the whole community get involved.
“It’s not just the indigenous community. It’s called You are Welcome, it’s for everyone in the community. The local pool, the Council, local businesses, and we’re really trying to get the local Police involved.
“I want to commit to ten weeks, so a term, and go from term to term. At first I was thinking four weeks on and four weeks off. I spoke to Luke Freudenstein, and he said it was about setting up a model that can work around the whole country.”
Tomorrow’s information session, which starts at 11am, will involve four key speakers; Mr Patten, nutritionist Nicole Turner, consultant Christopher Simpson, and Commander Superintendent Luke Freudenstein.
Superintendent Freudenstein has garnered a reputation for the work he has done in Redfern. Under his eye, a boxing program called Clean Slate Without Prejudice, took off in Redfern. The program keeps young people occupied, engages with people already in the prison system and has been heralded as a key reason for Redfern’s plummeting crime rate.
“The program’s broken up into three components. Clean Slate Without Prejudice in the mornings, from 6am to 7am, and I’d like to get the local police involved so people are boxing with the Police. It creates relationships with the Police and the community.”
The morning session involves boxing training, which Mr Patten is organising with Bidgee Boxing. The early morning start will also mean that it can provide a chance for a community breakfast and to sneak in a few lessons on good nutrition.
“The second component, that’s training, although we might change around what we do. We might have a fun-run around Narrandera. Rugby training, drills.
“It’s to encourage the people who don’t go to school and don’t work.”
Mr Patten hopes to have a lot of variety in the daytime sessions. Not only does he want to encourage attendees to have better and healthier lifestyles, he plans to enlist the help of counsellors, mental health workers, as well as strappers and trainers to give people the chance to get qualifications.
“Some people hear training and think that they’ll be pushed hard, but everyone goes at their own pace. Its group training and we rotate around the room.”
The third component is Mr Patten’s own program, which is focussed around Rugby League and borrows training techniques from the code.
Mr Patten wants to push the league training further, and reform the Narrandera Lizards senior side. Not only that, he wants to see the Wiradjuri Warriors team re-emerge.
“I remember being a kid and I couldn’t wait to play with them, and I know the other kids will want to do the same.”
The You Are Welcome Healthy Lifestyle program information session will be held on Friday September 8 from 11am to 12.30pm.