Eastern Gymnastics Club connect with the Box Hill South Sudanese Community

Eastern Gymnastics Club were awarded the Sports and Recreation Victoria Inclusive Leader Awards at the 2019 Gymnastics Victoria Family Ball and Awards Night for their work with their local Sudanese Community.

Looking around her community, General Manager of Eastern Gymnastics Club Alison Dunn wanted to give back to those who had welcomed her and her club to the community more than 10 years ago, but how?

Alison had observed the South Sudanese community in her area of Box Hill was growing and wanted to work with and support them in the same way that she had been supported over a decade ago. 

“I had noticed the South Sudanese population around the local area and was wondering how we could work with this community in gymnastics."  

"We had a family come and do a class supported by a volunteer from the church and so I asked her how I could get in touch with the community and if it would it be appreciated. She put me in touch with the organiser of the Box Hill South Sudanese Homework Club run by a local church,” Alison said to Gymnastics Victoria.

Nine months after their first contact, Alison and Eastern have been offering holiday programs and are keen to facilitate more to the community. 

"It was a great experience and we are keen to do it again. Watching the kids quickly grow confident in the gym, on the ropes and other equipment was so special. These kids do not get much of a chance for extracurricular activities or formal sports." 

"We discussed with Katherine (who runs the homework club) that we would look at supporting any of them if they wished to start gymnastics in our programs,” Alison said.

With many members of the South Sudanese community making Box Hill their home, Alison and Eastern are pleased to be a part of their local community and assist in any way they can. 

“Encouraging the children and young people to be part of community groups will help them assimilate into their local communities,” Alison said.

In addition to welcoming the growth of the South Sudanese community in Box Hill, Eastern Gymnastics is also working on a partnership with the Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS) which aims to create a community free of family violence and integrate services to support those responding to family violence. 

Gymnastics Victoria commend Eastern Gymnastics Club on this great work and congratulate them on being named the Sport and Recreation Victoria Inclusive Leader of the Year for 2019. 

Story by Alex Renzella