Building a healthier future

Yarraville's Ashika. (Supplied) 253242_02

Yarraville mother of two, Ashika has been named as a community champion as part of a new initiative striving to create a healthier future for Victoria’s young people.

Ashika is one of 14 community champions, which VicHealth says are a diverse group of young people and parents from across the state who are passionate about creating healthier communities.

The champions will work with VicHealth as part if its Future Health initiative.

Ashika signed on as a community champion to help ensure her boys have the “space, opportunity and resources” to be healthy.

She believes access to fresh food and green spaces, which allow people to be active and eat well, is really important.

Ashika said her family connects through nature and being active.

“It’s something about being in the environment that brings out the opportunity to talk [with my sons] about their lives,” she said.

As a single mum, she has turned to community support groups to share experiences about what has and hasn’t worked in accessing programs and spaces to raise an active, well-nourished family.

Ashika believes parents could use more support in bringing up the next generation of healthy kids.

“You can’t get a kid to sit down in one food technology lesson and expect them to understand what it takes to build a healthy life.

“It’s a multifaceted experience for them that is made up of little learnings that are relevant to their age and stage of development.”

The $45 million Future Healthy initiative will invest in new programs over three years to support people aged up to 25 to begin to create a healthier future.

VicHealth chief executive Sandro Demaio said Future Healthy follows an incredibly challenging 18 months, particularly for young people.

“The ongoing impacts of the bushfires, coronavirus pandemic and social upheaval have continued to weigh on the mental and physical health and wellbeing of Victoria’s young people” Dr Demaio said.

“They have told us that social connection, access to healthy food and having somewhere near home to be active are incredibly important to them – so is having their voices heard.

“The first phase of Future Healthy is about listening – we’re asking people aged 18-25 and parents and carers to join us in creating the solutions together that will promise a healthier future for all. We’ll be listening and learning as you share with us what we need to do to make happier, healthier living a reality for every young person.”