FACE-to-face bonding and motivation really mattered to Dan Madigan in men's health program Sons of the West. A big factor for Mr Madigan taking part was getting him out from behind the desk and making time to be accountable for his health.
The idea of tapping into sessions, finding some friendly faces on screen, and the challenge to help make the program fun and meaningful for other Ballarat men appeals to Mr Madigan.
Western Bulldogs Community Foundation is set to re-launch Sons of the West in an online format for Ballarat men, due to pandemic restrictions, from mid-July.
Mr Madigan will step up as a peer leader. He said an online program still had an opportunity to make a strong, positive impact on men's lives and fundamentally still aimed to make men more confident and aware of looking after their health.
"These are unprecedented times...I encourage men to continue on or take it up and make a commitment to go every week from a computer in their own home," Mr Madigan said.
"We definitely want to make it as fun as possible."
Mr Madigan joined Sons of the West three years ago in Wendouree. It was nothing like he expected and better than anything he had anticipated.
An avid Bulldogs fan, Mr Madigan had thought the program would be club and football focused.
What he found was a program to empower men in education - from mental health and addiction, to gender equity and nutrition - physical activity suited to individuals' fitness levels and a network of mates.
Mr Madigan, aged 37, said most participants were in their 60s but there were men much younger than himself, too, all supporting each other.
"Not many men really talk (about heath) but they would bring in different speakers every week, then you would exercise" Mr Madigan said.
"I've learnt sitting at a desk every day is not good for you - and I'm still learning ways to change this. Getting out and among people and talking is important. I have the confidence now to see a psychologist and it can just take your mindset to a better place and make you feel better."
Sons of the West in Ballarat is presented in partnership with City of Ballarat and Sports Central.
About 640 men across Bulldogs' territory in metropolitan western suburbs and western Victoria took part in the men's health programs last year. Of these men, 90 per cent said they better understood their local health services available and 85 per cent felt more knowledgeable about health topics covered.
The Wendouree men have continued on with exercise groups and supporting each other to move beyond the program's end.
Free registration is now open for men aged 18-plus in Ballarat. The online format will be delivered in small group meetings for eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Western Bulldogs-led children's literacy program Bulldogs Read has continued to accept book reviews from Ballarat pupils to share online. Bulldogs Read is exclusive to Ballarat and delivered in partnership with Ballarat Library.
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