Leisure Networks’ aim is similar to Humans in Geelong. It is all about connecting people with their community. I interviewed Libby Mears, CEO of Leisure Networks, at Sports House. ‘My three children were young when we decided to relocate from Melbourne to Airey’s Inlet. We wanted to bring our children up in a small community. I went from President of the local Kindergarten to holding the position of Mayor of the Surf Coast Shire Council. It was through this position at local council that I saw how important it is to build strong communities.
‘Leisure Networks is a Non-profit organisation, founded in the early ‘90s, whose aim is connecting people with their communities. We help in a number of ways. We support people with NDIS funding to be a part of their community, for instance finding work or volunteer opportunities, resume preparation, catching public transport, cooking skills or playing sport. We also help people to coordinate all their different services and supports.
‘Our work with sporting clubs helps them to be welcoming, healthy and inclusive of all cultures and abilities. One example is training them to employ responsible alcohol practices so they are ‘family friendly’. We are helping clubs provide opportunities for girls as we’ve found that girls often drop out from sport in their early teens. Having women and girls take on the roles of coaches, team managers and committee members is great for a club. We find decisions made by both genders are balanced and ensure a club thrives.
‘We also support older people to stay physically active and connected to others. We have a program called ‘Outdoor Adults’ where people are social and active in their local area and on their local walking trails, with a different program each term. Our ‘No Falls’ group helps reduce the risk of falling by strengthening legs and improving balance. We are the ‘backbone’ for these programs as there is a personal trainer or fitness expert employed to lead the groups, while we provide the mail outs and promotions.
www.leisurenetworks.org ‘It’s our amazing team that makes all the difference. Everyone is so motivated and engaged. Everyone loves their work. Connecting people with their community and encouraging them to become physically active and socially engaged is really important to us.’