Prescribing a punch for health

COLLABORATION: PCYC Shoalhaven manager Sam Kettlewell said GPs and PCYC are working together to improve youth mental health. Story and picture from ABC Illawarra.

A program in which GPs formally refer young patients to their local PCYC for exercise is seeing positive psychological and physical results in NSW.

The program started when junior medical doctor Kevin Rourke wondered if getting young people into boxing for fitness would improve their mental health.

The Canadian-born doctor started a trial in 2016 for 50 young people, and the results were so promising it has led to a formal partnership between Shoalhaven general practitioners and the Nowra PCYC.

Thirty young people have been referred to the Nowra PCYC by GPs so far this year.

“We recognise young people don’t have much access to money, so we wanted to provide support appropriately at low cost or no cost,” PCYC manager Sam Kettlewell said.

The program was originally designed to be for boxing only, but has recently been expanded to include all the sport and recreation programs at the PCYC.

Young people do not have to have a formal diagnosis of a mental illness, and the referral entitles them to free membership at the PCYC and five free classes of their choice.

“We’ve opened the program to offer archery, our general drop-in service, other fitness programs and anything else we have on offer,” Ms Kettlewell said

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