Green Gym: Conservation Volunteers Australia program designed to support carers to start in Newcastle

BACK TO NATURE: Ruth Boydell will take part in a carers' conservation program at Glenrock which will start on February 28. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.
BACK TO NATURE: Ruth Boydell will take part in a carers' conservation program at Glenrock which will start on February 28. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

As a full-time carer for her husband for the past six years, Ruth Boydell knew that she would have to start looking after herself in 2018. 

She had suffered a health breakdown of her own in the past 12 months and it made her realise that she was shouldering too much of the burden.

She had forgot to look after herself and was burnt out.

So when the opportunity came along to participate in a new health and fitness program designed for carers, she decided to put herself out there.

Green Gym, a program run by Conversation Volunteers Australia, aims to get carers out of the house and restoring their own physical and mental health.

It will launch next month for the first time in Newcastle as a 12-week initiative specifically catered to carers, another will start in mid-2018.

“I actually felt a great deal of satisfaction by simply deciding to do it,” said Mrs Boydell.

“It was kind of a big step for me to decide to get out of the house and do something physical. Particularly with a group of people who know what I’m going through [other carers].”

Green Gym has been run in Sydney in recent years, but the Newcastle program – to be held at Glenrock State Conservation Area – will be the first regional project.

It’s about getting people out of the house, getting some exercise and looking after their health and wellbeing,

Jessica Dickson, Green Gym conservation officer

“It’s about getting people out of the house, getting some exercise and looking after their health and wellbeing,” Jessica Dickson, Green Gym’s Sydney conservation officer said.  

“It was started in the U.K about 20 years ago by a GP [General Practitioner]. He realised there was that niche to prescribing people back out to nature, to help reduce stress and increase fitness.”

Participants will be led by a team leader each week and complete a physical warm-up before undertaking various conservation activities. A morning tea helps build the discussion among the group about carer-related topics.

“The mental health side of things is a huge contributor to people wanting to get involved,” Ms Dickson said. “They really enjoy just being with other people, talking and getting things done together.” 

Carers wishing to register for the Newcastle program should contact the local CVA office in Wickham, or online.