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Fair Game promotes healthy lifestyles in Hedland

Fair Game, a sports program for young people with a strong emphasis on health and nutrition, is making a big impact after just six months in Hedland.

The program runs weekly sessions for school-age kids at JD Hardie Youth Zone, with games of basketball and dodgeball and a healthy meal supplied, which is planned and prepared by the participants.

Grace Hendriks is the part-time coordinator of the Hedland program, which she says has grown quickly from just eight participants at the first session to now involving 30 to 40 young people each Monday evening.

Fifteen volunteers help keep the program running.

Grace was a volunteer with Fair Game when she lived in Perth and was keen to get the program running when she moved to Hedland, where she works as a physiotherapist at Hedland Health Campus.

“It’s got big very quickly. It’s aimed at school kids of all ages and it’s great to see them come together,” she said.

A $10,000 grant from the Town of Port Hedland has given the program a big boost, enabling the meals to be provided each week, underlining Fair Game’s healthy eating message.

Jennifer Geary cooking the food

Fair Game was founded by Dr John Bockxmeer, the WA winner of Young Australian of the Year in 2014, with a mission to create an equitable, healthy and sustainable society. With a strong contingent of volunteers, it runs health and fitness programs in many remote and under-serviced communities by providing recycled sports equipment for young people and programs promoting healthy lifestyles.

It was named WA Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year in 2019.

Cassie O’Connell has volunteered at Fair Game since it started in Hedland. As a teacher at Hedland Senior High School, she has found many benefits from being able to interact with students in a different environment, allowing the kids and adults to learn more about each other and build stronger relationships.

“It’s great to see the same faces from school, but at Fair Game we get to replace the paper and pen with basketballs and games of wedgetail eagle,” she said. “On a Monday night, the students often become the teachers and are the ones running rings around us. It’s a great way to flip the dynamic and have some fun.”

The focus on sport enables the young people to build teamwork and leadership skills, and reveal attributes that might not otherwise be apparent.

Cassie said the volunteers had really embraced the weekly sessions and felt part of something important for the community.

“You see the same volunteers there every week. Even with busy schedules, they don’t want to miss it,” she said.

The involvement of local police officers in the sessions also helped strengthen community links, with a recent Fair Game visit to Warralong community, 120km south-east of Hedland, for a blue light disco seen as one of the highlights of the program.

To find out more about Fair Game in Hedland, contact Grace on grace.hendriks@fairgame.org.au