After 12 months of working with my local Bunbury council and community I have succeeded in gaining support and approval to implement recognised annual Youth Health Awards! The awards will be rolled out over a 12 month period, beginning with the Happywhenfit Youth Health Ambassador Award which will recognise a young female and male aged between 12-18 years, demonstrating outstanding personal health commitment by combining a variety of fitness, nutrition and mental health promoting behaviours for a holistic picture of wellbeing. They are a positive role model to other young people, actively living, promoting and raising awareness around a healthy lifestyle. It is a young person committed to their own personal growth who demonstrates this by continually working towards goals that improve their health outcomes.Those chosen will act as Health Ambassadors in our South-West community for 2019 and present the following years chosen ambassadors with their award.

The Happywhenfit Awards provide Youth with purpose and inspiration to transform their health by connecting with their community,  building a toolbox to successful and sustainable health and finding empowerment in being a healthy role model to other young people. They are encouraged and supported to break any existing barriers to their health goals and recognised and rewarded for their application to this journey. There are over $1000 worth of locally sponsored prizes for winners. What I love about this is the opportunity for youth to connect with the people of our local community. Supporting local people is a huge part of Happywhenfit and when Youth see that our community is recognising and rewarding their efforts in choosing healthy behaviours for themselves and their environment, they are more inclined to begin the process of establishing healthy habits, routines and practices that support and improve their whole picture of health and wellbeing.

Why do we need awards specific to Youth Health? The statistics across mental health, nutrition and fitness of our young generation are frightening. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017-18 survey results, less than 2% of teens are meeting the suggested physical activity guidelines and only 6% are eating the suggested servings of fruit and vegetables. Since the 2014-15 survey results were released, cases of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression have all increased.

Youth more than ever need positive healthy role models that are relatable to their age group. They need mentors and community support that inspire them to see the incredible long term benefits of implementing healthy choices into their daily lives. I believe the awards will achieve this in providing Youth with young role models, establishing relationships between school, home and community health education and implementation, and rewarding the efforts they apply in practising healthy behaviours.

The awards are just the beginning of the health vision Happywhenfit has for Australian Youth. It is a health movement with the vision of educating and empowering healthier and happier communities ~ Inspiring a generation of change. The awards create a new, never before opened opportunity for schools and communities to engage in health education and implementation that is rich with meaning, purpose and real life application. They create an immersed learning environment where Youth can practice and apply their learning in school, home and community environments. As with any learning it is the opportunity to practice and find relevance in the content that creates successful and sustainable outcomes. I am so excited to be able to model this transformational initiative with my own local community first before sharing it with other councils and communities across Australia.

Young people can nominate themselves, or can be nominated by someone else. Click the buttons provided for more information and access to application/nomination forms.

The nomination period is open from now until March 22nd and the awards ceremony will be held on April 13th at the SHIFT Youth Festival. If you know an inspiring and healthy young person in our community who would be a strong health ambassador for our community, please nominate them at the link below or encourage them to apply!

Renae Porter