AS part of Mental Health Week, Hobart YMCA encouraged young Tasmanians to get active through a new initiative to boost mental health and wellbeing.
Children aged 10 to 12 competed in a day of activities in an Olympic-style format called the Y-Games.
The Y-Games were designed by social work student Dylan Nester who has been working with Hobart YMCA chief executive officer Melissa Carlton since January.
“The main aim was to raise mental health awareness in young children and just try to get them out there and have a bit of fun,” Mr Nester said.
“When you’re very young you don’t learn much about mental health, so it’s important we raise awareness to young ones before they go through high school.”
Mr Nester said the Y-Games was based on research that showed physical activity and teamwork helped improve mental health and resilience.
“I think physical activity is really important because it definitely allows the release of endorphins and it gets you out there to have a bit of fun and promotes a lot of things like teamwork, feeling great about yourself, and just the whole general idea of exercise,” he said.
“This was a fun social activity with the kids, to get them out there and working as a team, but also to learn new sports.”
The program saw children and parents experience various sports including table tennis, handball, soccer, dodge ball, boccia and pickleball.
“In each sport we focused on a particular aspect that helps improve mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Carlton said.
“The kids rotated through each sport, having the opportunity to try something new.”
Ms Carlton said she hoped the Y-Games would become an annual event.
“It’s really exciting to have been able to run this project, which was put forward by one of our students, and to get funding from the Mental Health Council,” she said.
Ten-year-old Sophie Robertson said the Y-Games helped her learn more about mental health.
“It’s about having fun and trying your best – it was a fun experience for everyone, and we learnt about new activities and how to stay active,” she said.
Caption: From left, Thomas Holiday, Y-Games founder Dylan Nester, Olivia Ims, Sam Percival and Elizabeth Ims enjoy a game of boccia at the inaugural Y-Games.