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NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth program wins Heart Foundation grant
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NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth program wins Heart Foundation grant

Media release – 3 August 2021

A boxing and wellbeing program based in Darwin for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been named as a winning project in the the Heart Foundation’s 2021 Active Australia Innovation Challenge.

The challenge invited tertiary institutions, schools, councils and other organisations to submit innovative ideas for getting people in their communities moving. The winners will each receive a grant of $10,000 to make their project a reality. 

Abi Rajkumar has won a grant to start “Curlew Crew”, a community-run program that will encourage healthy lifestyles and help Territory youth be more engaged with school and the community.

Curlew Crew will be open to kids between 10 and 16 years of age based in Darwin and for kids from remote communities who find themselves in town. Kids for the program will be identified in partnership with Larrakia Nation, Territory Families, NT Police, local Elders and community members. 

Volunteers will play a substantial role, with young professionals, police officers and lawyers joining volunteer Elders to act as training buddies and mentors. 

Curlew Crew will include weekly sessions consisting of 45 minutes of boxing and 15 minutes of a mindfulness exercise. This will be followed by a nutritious breakfast kids can either take with them on the go or eat alongside a mentor who can help with homework or simply have a chat and provide advice. 

Transport to and from the program will be provided in partnership with Larrakia Nation. 

A professional boxing instructor and a psychologist will attend the sessions, and the grant will also pay for boxing equipment and uniforms. 

The Heart Foundation received 619 entries in this year’s Active Australia Innovation Challenge. This is double the number of 2020 entries and almost five times the number submitted for the first challenge in 2018.

“The initative has been growing in popularity year-on-year, but even we were surprised by the huge number of entries received for this year’s challenge,” said the Heart Foundation’s NT CEO, Imelda Lynch.

The Heart Foundation could not be more pleased by this increased participation, given that two in three people in the NT are not active enough for good heart health. This is a real concern, because being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease.

“One reason for the spike in entries could be that the pandemic has sparked interest in physical activity at a grass-roots level. Being stuck at home for long periods is making everyone appreciate their communities more and think creatively about ways to stay healthy and active.

“Over the four years we’ve been running this challenge, the Heart Foundation has awarded grants to 45 organisations nationally. A big congratulations to all this year’s winners, including Abi Rajkumar. We look forward to working with you to bring the ‘Curlew Crew’ project to life.”

The Active Australia Innovation Challenge is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

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