The 'For Better Health' philosophy focuses primarily on three strategic priorities to encourage: healthy eating, more physical activity and greater community connectedness.
The Medibank Community Fund has sponsored the Heart Foundation Walking program for 3 years and in that time has sponsored a nationwide recruitment campaign to encourage all Australians to join free walking groups in their local area to improve both heart and overall health and wellbeing.
The walking program currently involves 22,000 registered participants across 1,400 organised groups, with an average of 500 new people joining each month.
The program services a vast array of groups ranging from women with children, retirees, people who are overweight or obese, Indigenous Australians and people who live alone. The diverse nature of the program aims to encourage participants to walk to make friends and most importantly improve health along the way.
The Medibank Community Fund will now shift the funding focus from recruitment, to improvement. This new phase will strengthen the network that links walkers and volunteer walk organisers across the nation creating better, more accessible communication and support channels to make it easier for people to be involved and stay involved in this national, free walking program.
Outputs & Impacts
As a result of the Medibank Community Fund's support, the Heart Foundation has recorded an increase in website visits, experienced a doubling in the number of enquiry calls and recruitment began to rise significantly.
According to the Heart Foundation Walking Annual Survey released in summer 2012, just over 80% of walkers and 90% of walk organisers are currently walking with a heart foundation walking group.
Satisfaction rates are also on the rise with 90% of walk organisers stating they received great support from the Heart Foundation.
The partnership has also inspired Medibank employee walking groups which strengthen workplace and team relationships and improve individual health. Employee engagement with the program has allowed the 'For Better Health' philosophy to spread across Medibank's internal channels and raise productivity of employees. Sick days were noticeably less and a number of employees claimed a greater sense of empowerment and pride in the MCF's actions towards connecting the community with better health pathways.
"The national support from Medibank Community Fund has allowed Heart Foundation Walking to engage with more Australian communities. We have been particularly pleased with the outcomes of our dedicated recruitment campaigns, photo competition and feedback from participants regarding the improved Walk Recognition Scheme. Each of these strategies have enabled us to increase recruitment to 22,000 participants and maintain outstanding retention rates."
Michelle Wilson, National Program Manager - Heart Foundation Walking