Walk & Talk boosts health for people with a disability

Far North Queenslanders are being urged to get behind an innovative new program tackling the chronic health and social issues affecting people with a disability.

Endeavour Foundation’s interactive Walk & Talk program is set to play an important role in addressing the high rates of disease among people with a disability in Cairns.  

Endeavour Foundation’s Far North Queensland Area Committee Chairman Brian Willis said Walk & Talk was a simple yet brilliant initiative that gets people from all walks of life working together, to ensure that people with a disability are actively involved in the community.

The program was developed by Endeavour Foundation in conjunction with the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD). It pairs community volunteers – known as Walking Buddies – with people with a disability for at least a half hour of walking and conversation each week.

"International research shows that less than 16% of adults with intellectual disability exercise as much as health authorities recommend,” Mr Willis said.

Combined with other factors, that translates to poorer physical and mental health and higher risk and rates of chronic disease than the general population. Because health problems can be harder to diagnose, life expectancy for people with an intellectual disability may be reduced by up to 20 years.

So when the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability proposed a volunteer walking program to improve health, wellbeing and community engagement, Endeavour Foundation was keen to get involved.

It’s exciting to see this simple, free, but incredibly effective idea launched in Cairns, and we appreciate the support of the five volunteers who have already signed up and we hope it contiuned to grow.”

Walk & Talk volunteers come from all walks of life - university students, corporate professionals, stay-at-home parents and more – and have found they get a buzz from being involved in their local community, along with the physical and mental health benefits that come from a regular half-hour walk.

Walking Buddy and Cairns final year QUT law student Chelsea Saldumbide, who is studying externally and working fulltime, jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the Walk & Talk program in Cairns. 

“By signing up for this program, I now have the chance to make a positive difference in another person’s life,” Ms Saldumbide said. 

“This program will not only benefit the physical wellbeing of both me and my buddy, it extends so much further than that. I have the opportunity to help my buddy integrate into society, broaden their social networks, create awareness for people with a disability and hopefully put a smile on someone else’s face.”

Cairns occupational therapist Thomas Orr cannot wait to put his best foot forward.

“This Walk & Talk program is a really good idea, not only does it get people with an intellectual disability out and about in their community but it also contributes to their health and wellbeing,” Mr Orr said.

“I would encourage anyone who is community-minded and wanting to make a difference, to step forward and volunteer their time. Walk & Talk is not time consuming and it’s very rewarding for both you and your walking partner.”   

Endeavour Foundation Learning and Lifestyle Support and Operations Manager, Yvonne Reddacliff, encouraged locals to put their best foot forward and join the Walk & Talk program.

“Being involved with the program leads to a healthier lifestyle and helps to develop stronger community relationships,” Ms Reddacliff said.

Walk & Talk empowers both volunteers and participants to fight the health and social problems that people with a disability cope with every day.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved – so if you would like to get fitter and be more actively involved in your community, why not sign up?”

To find out more about Walk & Talk, or to register your interest in being a Walking Buddy, contact Endeavour Foundation on 1800 63 40 40 or email volunteering@endeavour.com.au.

Endeavour Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organisation supporting people with a disability throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. This includes accommodation, education, training, vocational and lifestyle opportunities. Find out more at endeavour.com.au.

Contact:         Cait Bester
Media & Communications Officer  
Phone 0431 870 400
Email c.bester@endeavour.com.au