Surfing Victoria partners with VicHealth to create new social connections, boosting mental health of Victoria’s young people

Published on 04/07/2022

As part of VicHealth’s The Big Connect initiative, Surfing Victoria will deliver Community Connects, supporting the mental wellbeing of young people with opportunities to reconnect with their friends, families and communities. 
Surfing Victoria aims to connect and amplify the voices of regional multicultural youth and enrich lives through stand up paddleboarding (SUP). Programs across the state will give unreached youth the opportunity to connect with each other, nature, and physical activity in a safe and fun environment.
VicHealth is pleased to be working with Surfing Victoria to bring The Big Connect to life and deliver these opportunities for young people.  
“Young people have told us that they want more opportunities to connect with their peers and their community – they’re telling us that they’ve had a tough time, and that opportunities for social connection have been interrupted in a big way,” said Sarah Loh, VicHealth’s Executive Manager of the Future Healthy program. 
“That’s why we have launched The Big Connect – to deliver what young people have told us they want and need to connect with each other and their communities,” said Loh. 
The Big Connect comes as a VicHealth survey reveals, that:  

  • 4 in 5 (84%) young people agree that being socially connected is important for their mental wellbeing; and 
  • For 7 in 10 (71%) young people, staying socially connected with others has become one of the most important issues for them during the pandemic. 

Among Victoria’s parents and carers with children aged 6-17, the survey found:  

  • 9 in 10 (90%) parents believe that social connection is important for their child’s mental wellbeing; and  
  • Almost 2 in 3 (64%) parents are worried their child doesn’t spend enough time connecting to their community or neighbourhood.

“Surfing Victoria are stoked to be continuing our longstanding relationship with VicHealth and improve the lives of young Victorians,” said Adam Robertson, Surfing Victoria CEO.

“Stand Up Paddleboarding is such an incredible way to experience the environment and take a break from the stresses of life whilst connecting with other young Victorians.”
The Big Connect programs were chosen by young people, for young people. Across Victoria, 27 programs will receive a share of $5 million and capability building from VicHealth to support mental health, wellbeing and create over 100,000 new social connections for Victoria’s young people. 

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