As a new graduate I took a job working for a physical activity not-for-profit that provided training and support for people to fundraise and compete in running and swimming events. Most of these people couldn’t run 500m, and would never have considered entering a race. Seeing the overwhelming joy that exercise (and accomplishment) brought to these people’s lives was undeniable. I realised that my passion for activity and the value it holds, is missing in so many people’s lives.
How much healthier and happier would we be if everyone was given the skills, opportunities and support to be active from a young age? I work in this area of research to better understand how we can support individuals and the broader community to live healthier, happier lives.
Schools that value physical activity and equip students with the skills to be active for life, workplaces that support and encourage staff to be active, and walkable towns and cities that provide active travel alternatives. When I say this it feels a bit like a beauty contestant that answers ‘World Peace’, but that would be my vision for a healthier, happier society!
Sarah Young is a Project Officer working at Hunter New England Population Health (HNEPH) across Good for Kids projects. Sarah holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of Sydney, where she started her career in researching physical activity interventions and surveillance. She has worked on physical activity promotion programs across a variety of settings including workplaces, community settings and primary and secondary schools.
While Sarah’s roles have had an emphasis on research design, implementation and evaluation, she has also worked as the Active Living Project Officer at the Heart Foundation NSW. Her work included translating research in case studies, showcasing best practice in active design and supporting regional towns to create healthy living initiatives. Her work in the not-for-profit sector highlighted the importance of research translation and bridging the gap between research outputs, policy and practice.
I would like to see the incredible research and advancements into our understanding be accessed and shared at a population level. In a world where almost everything is at the press of a button, being active doesn’t ‘just happen’ like it used to. I want to see active communities that make being physically active easy, safe and enjoyable.