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SGAE Hamilton and partners have celebrated the end of their very first Garden to Plate program by doing what they do best, sharing fresh food and festive vibes! The Garden to Plate program launched in early 2019 and uses vegetable gardening and meal preparation to enhance language, literacy, numeracy and technology, and build skills for everyday living. It's an innovative approach to students obtaining a Certificate in Transition Education. Running one day a week, the program will commence again in February 2020 welcomes more participants along for the ride. Around 30 members of the Southern Grampians community came together on Monday 25th November for the Garden to Plate Summer Christmas, including program participants, carers, families, peers and the Mayor of the Southern Grampians Shire. Program participants showcased some of the fresh produce they have nurtured, and the cooking skills they’ve developed so far. HIRL garden volunteer Glenice says it’s important for participants to embrace the whole life cycle of the plants, ‘they’ve nourished little seedlings in the hothouse before they were even planted, they’ve been a part of the growth process from start to finish (garden to plate!)’.   Fresh garden beans, peas, carrots, beetroots, zucchini and varied herbs all featured in this weeks celebration.               Garden to Plate is much more than a gardening or cooking course, it’s about building life skills, utilising kitchen gardening to do so. Participants grow their social and organisational skills, problem solving abilities and more on top of learning about weights, measures, budgeting and shopping.   If you know of someone living with a disability who might be interested in Garden to Plate, get in touch with SGAE 48 Thompson Street or on 5571 9900.   Is your organisation, club, community group or school making a change so that the healthier choice is the easier choice? Let us know about it! Get in touch with Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or 5551 8475 for support or to share your story.

Last week, local primary school students, staff, parents and interested community members came together at the Hamilton Performing Arts Centre to learn and share stories/experiences from VicHealth 's Walk to School month. The aim was to learn from what we've done, seen and heard throughout the month and build ideas to make Walk to School month every month! The group came up with some great ideas to keep the momentum going, including;- Continuing to use drop off points- Keep doing group walks- Build better bike and scooter (road) safety skills- Implement a junior-senior school walking buddy system- Develop posters and visual prompts for use year around- Improve infrastructure; build better paths and safer road crossings Big thanks to George Street Primary School, Hamilton, Tarrington Lutheran School, Hamilton Gray St Primary School and Hamilton North Primary School for attending and sharing your stories. Thanks also to Cafe Gray for our fresh morning tea. Just because the official Walk to School month draws to a close today, there's no stopping now! Contact Ebony on 5551 8475 to find out more or to get involved.      

Standing tall is a school based mentoring program ran out of Baimbridge College, matching trained volunteer mentors with at risk youth to establish trusting relationships for support, encouragement and guidance in the lives of young people.   Karen (mentor) and Nyah (mentee) are one of the 17 current pairs in the program. Karen and Nyah have been a Standing Tall pair for 3 years now and have built a strong relationship that has benefitted them both. Karen and Nyah often use their weekly mentoring time to get out for a walk! Whilst on occasion the pair will also go on driving lessons or play table tennis, they have really embraced the social walk and both find it a great way to break up their day. Nyah says walking has helped strengthen her relationship with Karen, “I find it easier to talk about things while we walk and it’s good one on one time” says Nyah, “..it’s refreshing to go for a walk in the middle of the school day”. Karen says all the mentoring pairs should try using their mentoring time for walking, because there’s so much to see in our area. “We’ve been to HIRL, along the Grange, out to the Wannon Falls and through the gardens. The whole reason we started walking was to show Nyah more of what’s out there in Hamilton”.        Standing Tall co-coordinator, Jane Crowe congratulates the pair for thinking outside the box and getting out and about. “It’s great for pairs to do something active, frequently in our program mentors take their mentees out for lunch, which is again great bonding time but sometimes not the best food choices are made. We’re looking to make healthier choices easier within our group as a whole, we now have a permanent fruit bowl in our mentoring space and display the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. It’s hard on our budget to provide healthy choices, but we are working on finding healthy alternatives”.     A big congratulations to Nyah and Karen for trying something new and healthy within their mentoring time! We hope they set the scene for other pairs to follow their lead and enjoy some active outdoor time. To find out more about Standing Tall, you can contact Jane at standingtallhamilton.bco@outlook.com or phone 5572 2788 . How is your school, workplace, sporting club or community group encouraging healthy choices when it comes to food and activity? Let us share your story, contact Ebony at genr8change@gmail.com or phone 5551 8475