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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

More than just a garden - Coleraine Community Garden at the Community Health Centre   The idea of a vegetable garden was put forward to the Health Service by community members back in 2017. With support from the Coleraine Hospital, a working group formed and ascertained broader interest by advertising in the local 'Wannon' Newsletter, placing posters around town and using word of mouth to move the concept forward.  The working group then had to decide where to plant the veggies, so they were accessible for all, including those in mobility aides. The group decided to spread the garden over a number of spots, and started with raised planter beds alongside a pathway near the Health Service, allowing residents from the hostel or nursing home to access the garden if they wished.    Starting with these beds, the group planted five fruit trees and some herb and vegetable seedlings to get things started. Soon after, some of the native plants in a larger existing bed outside the Medical Clinic were dying, so the group took the opportunity to plant here as well, with summer pumpkin, corn and pie melon vines thriving in the space.  Since this initial planting, tomatoes, green herbs, chilli's, eggplant and loads of winter veggies have been planted and harvested. Many of these plants are thanks to donations of seeds from the community.                        The garden volunteer base remains small, but the tasks of weeding and planting new crops are manageable  as the volunteers (Kate, Julian, Dave, Rowena and Elizabeth) who work in the garden really enjoy themselves – reporting it is very social and relaxing! One of the initial working group members and garden volunteers Elizabeth Guthridge from WDHS says,  "You find you don’t have time to let the worries of your life creep in as you focus on your chores in the garden and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, and chat to the local passers by". The garden group hope to purchase one or two more fruit trees and make the garden a real focal point for community celebrations in future. Last year the gardening group encouraged the two primary schools in Coleraine to create Christmas decorations for the garden, and awarded certificates to participating children.  Ms Guthridge is happy the garden is serving its intended purposes plus some, "The Community Garden has enhanced the streetscape of Whyte Street and also the entrance to the Coleraine Medical Clinic.  The community take an interest in the vegetables planted and wander amongst the beds helping themselves to the vegetables – which is what we want".  If you have any queries about the Coleraine Community Garden, or are keen to volunteer, please contact Elizabeth Guthridge at elizabeth.guthridge@wdhs.net    What is your community group, school, club or workplace doing to promote healthy choices? Let us know about it! Email or call Ebony at ebony.jenkins@wdhs.net or 5551 8475.