Movement as medicine.

Movement as medicine.

Port to Pub swimmers support innovative program for WA kids with chronic conditions.

A highlight on WA’s sporting calendar, the 2024 Euroz Hartleys Port to Pub is supporting PCHF as its charity partner for the second year running. 

Last year’s event raised more than $30,000 to help PCHF part-fund Move to Improve, an innovative ‘movement as medicine’ program for WA kids living with chronic diseases such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, cerebral palsy, juvenile arthritis, post-burn injuries, and cystic fibrosis.

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An Aussie-first led by researchers at Perth Children’s Hospital, Move to Improve is evaluating the physical and mental health impacts of physical activity on kids with chronic conditions and their families. Noah, who lives with juvenile arthritis, and Charlotte, who has cystic fibrosis, both recently took part in surfing sessions through Move to Improve.

Nine-year-old Noah, who took part in the program last year, found that water-based physical activity was very beneficial when it came to taking his mind off the pain.

Noah has struggled with arthritis in his right hip since he was just two years old. He begun limping as a toddler, and now requires regular steroid injections under anaesthetic at Perth Children’s Hospital to help reduce inflammation and manage his pain.

Noah’s mum, Hayley said: “Noah is more at-ease and comfortable when he’s surfing than with other sports he’s tried. Having juvenile arthritis means that he can’t run as far as other kids and needs to take breaks more frequently, but in the water, he can go for much longer, and he’s generally pain-free and happy.  

“After the surfing sessions he comes home so excited, I even had other parents coming up and asking What’s going on with Noah? He’s got a lot more confidence lately!

Eight-year-old Charlotte has cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder that affects the cells that produce mucus.

In people with CF, mucus in the lungs is more likely to clog the airways and trap germs, like bacteria. This can cause repeated lung infections, while also damaging the lungs and digestive system. This means avoiding germs is a key concern for people with CF.

Over a two-month period, Charlotte took part in weekly surfing sessions through Move to Improve. Mum Sarah said the program helped to boost both Charlotte’s confidence, as well as her overall health and wellbeing.

When Charlotte is recovering from a viral infection, her breathing can be laboured during physical activity and she struggles to keep up,” she said. “Getting into the ocean was fantastic for her recovery and great for her lung capacity. Regularly breathing in that salty ocean air is also great for her overall lung health.”

PCHF CEO Carrick Robinson said: “It’s thanks to the wonderful generosity of our donors that PCHF can continue to provide these positive experiences to patients, with the aim of helping kids with chronic, long-term conditions to both live well and stay well.”

This year, Move to Improve is expanding, and kids with chronic conditions at PCH will be supported by a multidisciplinary allied health team to develop and achieve their own personal physical activity goals, whether that’s walking for five minutes without stopping or getting back to playing footy once a week.

Acknowledgments: Move to Improve is funded by PCHF and The Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, with support from Principal Partner Mineral Resources via Channel 7 Telethon Trust, Amazon Australia, Globe BD, and the WA community. The project is also made possible thanks to researchers from the University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institue. 

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