Talks under way for Indigenous running group in Tamworth, after revelation city has highest overweight/obesity rates in Australia

PROJECT VISIT: Maene Trindal, Malaki Johnson and graduate Jacinta Smith at The Youthie. Photo: Gareth Gardner 100517GGE03

PROJECT VISIT: Maene Trindal, Malaki Johnson and graduate Jacinta Smith at The Youthie. Photo: Gareth Gardner 100517GGE03

HOPES are high that someone from the Tamworth area will take up the challenge of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF), to help tackle the city’s obesity epidemic and inspire Aboriginal peers.

The shocking news that parts of the city have the nation’s highest overweight rate was a big topic at a recent meeting between locals and the IMF, which develops Indigenous people into marathon runners and helps them start local running groups.

Tamworth Regional Council cultural development officer Andrea Bruno said she’d invited the IMF because consultation with the Aboriginal community had shown a need for services for the 18-30 age group.

Mayor Col Murray, councillor Phil Betts and members of the council’s Aboriginal Community Consultative Committee were at the meeting on May 10.

It was organised as part of the IMF’s visit to Tamworth to hold an information and documentary screening on its marathon program at The Youthie that night.

One talking point at the morning meeting was the revelation that almost 80 per cent of people living in Westdale, Coledale, Taminda and parts of West Tamworth were overweight and almost half obese.

Mrs Bruno said an IMF-supported running group was just one activity targeting one group of people, but was one “that we felt would have the potential to change lives for the better”.

Talks are now under way to set up an indigenous running group in the city.

“[The obesity statistics were] discussed at the meeting, absolutely – and how important it is that we all, really, start running or walking,” Mrs Bruno said.

“This addresses one segment of the population, Aboriginal people, but it’s a message for all of us…

“The running group would be for people of all ages, but we particularly would like Aboriginal people between 18 and 30, so that they can perhaps begin to feel confident that they will be able to put their hand up for the Indigenous Marathon Project.”

About 30 people turned up to the info/doco event that night, IMF spokeswoman Kellie O’Sullivan said.

The 2017 marathon squad has been selected, but applications will open for the 2018 season in November.

Miss O’Sullivan said she hoped hearing other runners’ stories – including that of Tamworth’s Jacinta Smith, a 2016 graduate – had “sparked something in them”.

Mrs Bruno hoped so, too.

“There is tremendous benefit to the self-development of young Aboriginal men and women, which translates in turn to health outcomes in the communities where they live,” she said.

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