Last Friday morning I was honoured to present some prizes to participants in Go Explore It Heathcote. The CEO of Heathcote Health was there; Dan Douglass has been an enthusiastic supporter of our efforts to get the people of Heathcote out and active in their community. Also present were the coordinator of the Heathcote Community House, Vicki Forde and Sandra Slatter, who coordinates the Heathcote Community Games in February each year.
This project started many months ago when I met Dan out walking his dog. We got chatting (we used to work together) about his desire to improve physical activity for the people in Heathcote. Our club had just been awarded funding for Go Explore It and the Go Explore It group talked about including Heathcote in some of the activities. Heathcote is a town with entrenched disadvantage and a number of poor health measures among its population.
This year the Go Explore It project has achieved a number of exciting activities:
– A new orienteering map of the township of Heathcote was developed after we obtained LIDAR data of terrain in and around Heathcote, so we could make the base map. Christopher Naunton has done a great job of this map, and Bendigo club members will have the opportunity to run with this map at the ToDay event on 20th & 21st Feb 2016.
– Andrew Cameron, with help from a couple of other club members (including Darren Eenjes and Bryan Keely), organised a number of school based orienteering activities over two school terms at both the primary school and the Catholic primary school in town. He reported great enthusiasm and enjoyment among both students and staff members.
– The Go Explore It project has also developed some curriculum based classroom lessons designed to introduce primary school students to map reading around their environment, thanks to Jenny Ball and Joanne Cherry, who are practicing teachers. These resources meet the Australian curriculum standards and are available for free to teachers to use in their classrooms.
– The Go Explore It Heathcote was set up as a pilot so we could trial a community event in a smaller town before we introduce this to Bendigo in 2016. In order to make the maps available for free and broadly distributed, they were printed in large numbers and made available to the community in the local newspaper, the schools and the community house and tourist information centre. The activity went for 2 months and people were challenged to use the map as they walked, ran or cycled around the town, finding sites and matching photos. A website was developed, and participants were invited to register their answers on the website. We wanted mass participation. Craig Fueurhardt has contributed many hours of planning and organizing to get these things happening in Heathcote.
– Registration on the website was actually a bit disappointing, and we realized that we had made a lot of assumptions in the way that Go Explore It Heathcote was designed and organised. We met with Sandra and Vicki, and learned a few things about the community. As a result there are a few things we are planning to do differently in Bendigo in 2016 when we introduce a larger map reading health promotion activity.
– So, back to the presentation. A mother attended with her six youngest home schooled children. She had gone out with 4 of her children and they had found the largest number of sites. They won a $50 voucher from Sportsco and also a massage voucher from N8 Health for being the largest group to participate. Two other people won prizes. When I stated that we were a bit disappointed at the low participation rate, Dan, Vicki and Sandra all stated that many more people got out and tried it than the ones who registered their results on the website.
– The Go Explore It group has committed Bendigo Orienteers to two ‘Come and Try It’ orienteering events in Heathcote next year: the first ToDay sprint event will have a short novice option for locals to get a taste of orienteering, and on the following weekend, we have been asked to provide a small sample event around Barracks reserve as part of the Heathcote Community Games.
Go Explore It has made a mark on Heathcote and introduced orienteering in interesting ways for the community. I encourage club members to consider volunteering with me in February to help a few locals discover some of the fun and wonders of orienteering.