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Local students making ‘Deadly Choices’

The first round of participants in the Sharks supported Deadly Choices program have graduated from their eight-week education course. 

Sharks Indigenous Programs Coordinator, Rachal Allan, who delivered the program on behalf of the Sharks and Community partner Deadly Choices, an organisation which delivers health education and capacity development programs aimed at supporting students to be positive role models and mentors for their family, peer group, and community by living a healthy lifestyle, expressed her satisfaction at the application shown by those students to have taken part.

“Due to COVID restrictions we started with a smaller group of eight boys and each week they showed up with enthusiasm to learn, asking plenty of questions throughout the session,” Ms Allan said.

“I would give them ‘homework’ each week to integrate what we had learnt into their lifestyle, and weekly they reported back with excitement the healthy habits they had incorporated into their day to day lives, like trying new vegetables, or talking to their family members about the dangers of smoking.

“I was really proud to see the boys showing up every week and being highly engaged in gaining knowledge and making healthier, ‘deadly choices’,” she added.

As a part of the eight week program, Rachal worked with Aboriginal students from Endeavour Sports High School and the Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel in providing health education, while encouraging them to be role models in their families, peer groups and community by leading a healthy lifestyle.

The students were urged to identify their own health habits and goals to improve their lifestyle, develop leadership skills and ask questions along the way.

During the program, students receive a Deadly Choices Indigenous design shirt for completing their annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Check with Vitalis Family Medical Practice.

Health checks are encouraged throughout the program to normalise the idea of seeing a doctor not just due to an illness, but to remain healthy, access support, and prevent or better manage chronic disease.

Ultimately, Deadly Choices wants to spread the concept of prevention being better than cure, and supporting people to make healthy choices.

The eight-week Deadly Choices Education program is delivered in a flexible manner and addresses the following topics:

• Leadership
• Chronic Disease
• Tobacco Cessation
• Nutrition
• Physical Activity
• Harmful Substances
• Healthy Relationships
• Access to health services and health checks

The foundation for the Deadly Choices Education program is built on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural framework which is essential for building relationships with participants. The program encourages participants to embrace their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity and further develop their understanding of their culture.

Leadership is used as a tool to direct good health and education practices. Throughout the program Allan has students continuously reflect on leadership as a cornerstone of healthy lifestyle behaviours to encourage friends, family and community to do the same.

“Jay Yarnold was one young man who in completing the program this term was particularly impressive with his dedication to learning more about his culture,” Ms Allan explained.

“Jay keenly devoted his time to learning and delivering an Acknowledgment to Country at the start of every session, setting himself goals such as regularly visiting the gym and eating more vegetables as a part of a healthy eating plan.”

Deadly Choices partners with professional sporting clubs such as the Sharks in utilising athletes as role models for health, well-being and leadership in the community.

The Sharks and other Deadly Choices’ partners share a passion for making a difference and demonstrating respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.

Rachal is looking forward to working with more schools in the New Year and has already linked with Cronulla High, Engadine High and Woolooware High to deliver the program and will also return to Endeavour Sports High in 2021.

For more information on the Deadly Choices Education Programs CLICK HERE or to enquire about running the a DC  Program in your school or community group, email Sharks Indigenous Programs Officer, Rachal Allan at [email protected].