Avondale University is partnering with the Lake Macquarie city council in New South Wales, Australia, to boost the health and well-being of residents locked down by restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic with a health initiative called “Let’s Lift Lake Mac.”
More than 2,300 have registered for free online access to the program behind Avondale’s core Foundations of Wellbeing unit. The program, called The Lift Project, introduces scientifically proven strategies from the fields of neuroscience, positive psychology, and lifestyle medicine that “help lift your mood and your life.” It was created by associate professor Darren Morton, who directs Avondale’s Lifestyle Medicine and Health Research Centre, and is the only program certified and endorsed by the peak lifestyle medicine bodies in Australia and the U.S.
The “educational adventure” guides participants through seven lessons — one a week — encouraging them to learn, experience, think, and share. Morton and colleague Jason Hinze explore the science through a humorous but informative video in the learn step. Participants complete a daily and weekly challenge in the experience step. They internalize information from the lesson in the think step and can use a private Facebook group to tell others about their experience in the share step.
Kay Fraser, mayor of the city, said that “Let’s Lift Lake Mac” comes at a crucial time for the city. “Many people are doing it tough at the moment. We’re a resilient community, but right now, we need to make sure we look after ourselves and each other.”
As a resident of Lake Macquarie, Morton is also subject to the stay-at-home orders imposed by the state government. “It’s more important than ever we all make positive choices and take positive steps to not only survive COVID but thrive beyond it. ‘Let’s Lift Lake Mac’ offers fun and simple strategies that can help us do this,” he said.
Lake Macquarie is the third council in Australia to offer the program to its residents. The Sunshine Coast Council in Queensland did so during the COVID-19 lockdown this past year. Adelaide City Council, in South Australia, is doing so now, although on a smaller scale with international tertiary students — it will expand the program in January 2022. In October, 36 schools in the Finger Lakes region of New York State in the U.S. will offer the program to those in their communities, as will Florida SouthWestern State College in February 2022. Many other education providers and health-care organizations plan on doing the same.
The Lift Project is part of Morton’s “audacious” plan to lift the lives of 10 million people. “I never tell people what they’re doing wrong. I simply say, ‘This is what the science says you can do to feel better.’ Why wouldn’t you want to know that?” His challenge: “Test it, see if it works.”