The Western Bulldogs Community Foundation today celebrated 10 years of its leading Sons of the West health and wellbeing program at VU Whitten Oval.
Sons of the West is a free 10-week program facilitated by the Foundation in partnership with local councils and community health services across Victoria.
The program is aimed at men aged 18 and above, and strives to empower men to make their health and wellbeing a priority by giving them the tools and knowledge.
Since its inception, over 5000 men have been inspired and educated, with the program delivered across 27 suburbs in the West including the club’s home away from home, Ballarat, and beyond.
The impact on participants is clear too:
- 90% of participants reported better knowledge of health services available to them
- 93% felt empowered by Sons of the West to take care of their health and wellbeing
- 76% made new friends and now feel more connected to their community
Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains, past participant Brett Patrikeos, and players Buku Khamis and Bailey Dale were among the guest speakers at today’s launch.
“Some 10+ years ago, through great foresight of people within the club and calling upon the club’s ongoing commitment to community, Sons of the West was created,” Bains said.
“The impact that the program has, from a physical and mental health perspective, on the men that participate, and also the women now through Daughters of the West (is significant), but it also brings a real sense of connection and belonging to those who participate.
“I think the real strength and sustainability of the program was probably demonstrated through COVID – the ability of the program to segue to an online delivery and continue to impact positively was truly remarkable.”
Khamis said being involved in the program has in turn had a positive impact on his footy.
“I think it’s a great way for men to get involved and talk about different experiences they’ve gone through,” he said.
“I’ve learnt how important it is to open up about your mental health – we all suffer at times, especially as men. Overall, it’s a great way to interact as well.
“Being away from the field it’s good because I can focus on (being involved) – it gives me a mental break from footy, which can be a grind at times.
“I feel like it’s just really good to do something away from the field, which I feel helps me when I’m back on the track.”
This year, Sons of the West will be delivered across 11 sites. To find out more or register today, please click here.