Walk & Talk boosts health for people with a disability

21 March 2014

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.

Endeavour Foundation’s North Queensland Area Committee Chairman Brian Fanning 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," said Mr Fanning.

"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 North Queensland, and we appreciate the support of the North Queensland Cowboys and Southern Cross Media to spread the word," Mr Fanning said.

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.

Endeavour Foundation’s North Queensland Business Development Manager, Verena Coombe, said it was great to have North Queensland Cowboys and Southern Cross Media supporting Walk & Talk.

"Being involved with the program leads to a healthier lifestyle and helps to develop stronger community relationships. North Queensland Cowboys were happy to throw their support behind the program and we are sure their members and fans will get behind it too," Ms Coombe 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 made a New Year's resolution to get fitter and be more actively involved in your community, why not sign up?" she said.

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 in more than 4,000 placements from more than 230 locations in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. These include accommodation, education, training, vocational and lifestyle opportunities. Find out more at endeavour.com.au.