PORT NEIL, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Lou McDonough remembers what it was like arriving in the small South Australian town of Port Neill with a new baby and no networks. She soon got to know people and is now a vital member of the community. She wants that for other young mums, especially those new to the town and those mums from surrounding farms. It was the reason she and a team of enthusiastic volunteers decided to get yoga classes going, with childcare provided.

A two-week well-bring program, supported by the Port Neill Progress Association and the local primary school, was built around daily yoga classes and supported by local shops and other services.

“We wanted the women and children in our community to learn techniques through yoga to relax and reduce stress and anxiety. It was also an opportunity for women from different generations to meet and form friendships, learn from each other and practise yoga,” Lou said.

“Our school ran the crèche so that the mums could relax into the yoga knowing that their children were well cared for. We also had kids from the school and older ladies from the area which was great.”

“There’s been a drought here and the older women have been through it before and they know what these younger women are going through.”

The project began as just yoga classes but Lou’s enthusiasm meant it grew to embrace the town and included involvement from Mentally-Fit Eyre Peninsula. Students from the school painted well-being rocks and hid them around the town, bead-making classes were held and shops put signs up welcoming participants and offering support.

“People really loved it and it was terrific to see the yoga participants at morning tea, all gathering together to talk and the older women nursing the babies. Bringing people together can create such great networks.”