Community Health Education Groups (CHEGS) Inc. has been providing quality health education to the residents of the Northern Rivers Area since 1979. CHEGS was established in response to the North Coast Region Healthy Lifestyle program and at that stage was a branch of SHARE NSW. In 1986 the organisation ceased to be a part of SHARE and formed an independent non-profit organisation called CHEGS Inc. CHEGS has an elected Management Committee consisting of Health Service employees, community members and a staff representative. The position of Manager is funded by Northern NSW Local Health District, Health Promotion Unit.
The organisational aim is to identify opportunities for, develop and implement, specific community education programmes to support major health promotion initiatives in the North Coast area. CHEGS employs educators from the local community to deliver a range of programs. The organisation has developed along the following lines:
- 1979-1992 – Training of new educators each year. Steady growth. Programs offered include Nutrition and Weight Management, Stress Management, Smoking Cessation and Parenting Support
- 1992 – Five community educators trained as Fitness Instructors, as part of Stay on Your Feet ,Falls Prevention program, and commenced Gentle Exercise classes 1992/1993.
- 1994 – Beat the Bulge, a Waist Loss Course for Men was developed by Community Nutritionist, Northern Rivers Area Health Service and run.
- 1992-2000 – Twelve more Fitness Instructors trained. Chegs provides annual speciality training for Fitness Instructors as in accordance with Australian Fitness Accreditation Council registration requirements, as well as quarterly professional development.
- 1998 - ‘Better Beat’ a Cardiac Rehabilitation Maintenance program developed and groups commenced. Centre of Wellbeing, Alstonville opened with a one year grant from Department of Veteran Affairs
- 1999 - Three Fitness Instructors trained in Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health and Arthritis
- 2000 - A further 15 Fitness Instructors complete Tai Chi Training and groups commenced
- 2001 - Auspice of “Tooty Fruity Vegie Project” (TFV) – a major health promotion initiative to increase the fruit and vegetable intake of primary school aged children.
- 2002 - In collaboration with Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) new program targeted at older people, Memory Enhancing Workshops, developed and implemented.
- 2004 - Revised Weight Loss program to refocus on individualising the program and including more physical activity. TFV continuing with smaller grants and employing 2 part time project officers. CHEGS auspicing four-year grant for Goonellabah Transition program – an early intervention between home and pre-school. Employing 4 part time staff. Fitness Instructors trained in Yoga for Seniors program and running classes.
- 2007 - Goonellabah Transition Program and Tooty Fruity Vegie continuing. Tai Chi training facilitated for CHEGS Instructors, Health Professionals and Fitness Community.
- 2008 - Continue to auspice funding for the Nupa Team and also the RRISK program. CHEGS’ grant funding for the Goonellabah Tranistion Program ended on 30th June 2008, however the program has continued with new grant funding and another auspicing body.
CHEGS funded and supported the training of two Community Educators to the Level of Fitness Instructor, one resident in Coraki and the second in Bangalow. A two-day Fitness Instructor training was held, at which 15 participants completed the core Level 1 Pilates Course presented by Pilates Qld.
In partnership with the Cancer Care Unit, two Tai Chi classes for cancer patients, their family and carers are held each week in Lismore. Another very successful partnership this year was with Casino Community Health in the presentation of a Falls Prevention Awareness day.
- 2009 - funded and supported the training of three Community Educators to the Level of Fitness Instructor, one resident in Ballina and the other two in Ocean Shores/Brunswick Heads area. Two Fitness Instructor trainings were held, at which participants completed the Pilates Matwork Course Level 2, presented by Pilates Qld. and Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi . The partnership with Cancer Care Unit continues.
Thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of CHEGS as an organisation. Life membership given to Ron and Eunice Weatherall, founding members of the organisation and management committee members for 30 years.
- 2010 - CHEGS Educators trained to deliver the falls prevention program “Stepping On” and programs have been offered in Lismore, Ballina, Casino, Evans Head, Woodburn, Alstonville, Bangalow, Ocean Shores, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah and Banora Point. Tai Chi training facilitated for eighteen CHEGS instructors.
- 2010 - CHEGS is contracted with funding from the Northern Rivers General Practice Network (NRGPN), to deliver a pilot of the Star program in seven Aged Care Facilities. This is a falls prevention program and consists of 1 hour of exercise, falls prevention and general wellbeing information, being delivered to low-care residents of the facilities.
- 2011 - After a successful pilot ,the Star program has been continued and expanded to eleven facilities for a further 25 weeks. 1 Lismore Community Educator funded to complete Certificate 111 in Fitness. CHEGS Fitness Instructors complete Level 1 Yogalistics training.
- 2012 - The popular "Stepping On' program continues and extends to Tweed Heads, Yamba and Maclean. CHEGS Instructors attend a weekend workshop in Chinese Medical Qigong, presented by Simon Blow. Auspicing funding for RRISK program and also Healthy Children's Initiative with two project officers employed.
- 2014 - Three CHEGS Instructors complete training to teach Infant Massage. Stepping On continues and is extended to Pottsville and Kyogle. 2 people funded to undertake Certificate 111 in Fitness, Tai Chi/Qigong Instructors attend a 2 day Simon Blow workshop and 15 Fitness Instructors complete a Certificate in Rehabilitation. Auspicing of Go 4 Fun, Healthy Childrens Initiative and RRISK continues, with 4 part-time staff employed.
GAVIN DART PUBLIC OFFICER
Gavin returned to Ballina where he was born and raised after leaving the local area to attend university and work. Gavin holds a Bachelor in Health Science (Honours), Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics and Graduate Certificate in Public Health. Since 2003 Gavin has worked in project, policy, management and clinical roles for health organisations including the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing in Canberra, John Flynn Private Hospital in Tugun, North Coast Primary Health Network in Ballina and Northern NSW Local Health District in Lismore.
Gavin stays active bike riding, bodyboarding and playing tennis. He joined the Management Committee in 2009.
Cheryl has been a CHEGS employee since 1989 and a fitness leader since 1992. She is the employee representative on the management committee and currently works in the Ballina/Lennox Head area. Cheryl says "I love running classes for older people in the community and certainly practise what I preach. I take long walks around my home town of Lennox Head. Running the exercise classes is a very rewarding experience for me as I feel as though I am giving a lot back to the community".
In 2001 CHEGS ran a Heart Safe program for Vietnam Veterans in partnership with the Heart Foundation, and partners were invited. Pam came along to the program and then continued to attend the CHEGS exercise classes. Pam has been on the Management Committee since 2007 and is a keen advocate for the programs.
Mary began working for CHEGS in 1989 as a Community Educator running Weight Management courses. In 1992 she completed her Certificate 111 in Fitness and ran exercise classes as part of the Stay On Your Feet program. In 1995 Mary was employed by the Health Service to manage CHEGS, and at that stage she became the Public Officer for the organisation.
In 2004 Mary graduated with a Bachelor of Business, Human Resource Management from Southern Cross University, studying part time while managing CHEGS. Mary maintains her fitness level by running a couple of classes each week, back-filling CHEGS Fitness Instructors, and walking her dog.
Jillian is Manager of Health Promotion, NNSW LHD. Jillian has worked in health promotion and community nutrition for the local health service for over 20 years. She has published many papers in scientific journals on her work in preventing ill health through healthy eating and physical activity, and her team have won state and national awards for these programs. Jillian trained as a clinical dietitian and has an adjunct lecturer role at Southern Cross University.
PAT OXTOBY – KYOGLE
I've been teaching Qi Gong/Tai Chi for 4 years and enjoy every moment of it.
I feel it is a good way to exercise both mind and body and hope all participants gain some benefit while also having fun during the classes. I'm also a participant in the 'Active Kyogle' preventative health initiative, encouraging community members to try Tai Chi for health improvement.
HELEN ROBERTSON - CORAKI
I love the sense of belonging that comes from exercising with others in my local community. I have worked for many years in Aged Care so know that safe gentle exercise does work.
It strengthens and tones the body at the same time allowing a greater range of movement and better balance. I also love the way exercise gives a greater sense of body/mind awareness providing a time to be more focused and relaxed.
Cheg's classes are welcoming and supportive "
SUE BOARDMAN - LISMORE & NIMBIN
I have always been interested in movement. I began as a dance/drama and physical comedy performer. I spent many years practising and teaching Iyengar yoga. From there my interests expanded to include Pilates and Tai Chi/Qigong.
I have been teaching some form of movement since 1982. At first this teaching practice was with children and young adults. As I have developed as a teacher I realised that my true interest lies in working with mature adults.
Nowadays I am interested in any form of movement that is beneficial, not only to my health and wellbeing, but also that of my clients.
CHEGS Inc has given me a great platform to pursue this interest.