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Become a buddy and get fit and healthy at the same time

Aiden Chris Liam SOTWLiam McEwen enjoys meeting people.

He has three grown-up children, two new grandsons, a wife, and has recently retired from a job he held for 32 years, with Scope.

But one could say he digs a little deeper than most when meeting someone for the first time.  “When you look into a person’s eyes, you can see the person. They’re just like you or I.  You don’t see the disability, or homelessness or someone from a dysfunctional family; you just see a person, someone who needs love and friendship,” explains Liam. 

A fit and healthy man, Liam does most things in moderation.  Last year Liam’s brother wanted to improve his health, and Liam signed up with him to the Western Bulldog’s Sons of the West program.  "From the moment you walk in the door, you can tell the group are really supportive,” explains Liam.  With a combination of regular meetings with speakers educating the group about fitness and nutrition, and online modules to complete, Sons of the West is a program that educates, empowers and replaces bad habits with good ones. 

This year Liam has committed to being a buddy to Chris and Brenton, who attends annecto David House, and help the men improve their health and fitness through the Sons of the West program.  “I’ve seen people grow in confidence when you’ve helped them to do something that they couldn’t do before,” explains Liam. “All anyone needs is a bit of support, and they can achieve.”

annecto are looking for more men like Liam, who can buddy with a person, pick their buddy up, drive them to one of the local weekly meetings, assist them to follow and complete the Sons of the West program, and act as a support when the going gets tough.

“We’ve got a lot of men in their 40s and 50s who attend programs at annecto David House who could use some help improving their physical health,” explains Helen Kowalyk, Community Inclusion Coordinator at annecto David House. 

“The priority for many people with a disability, older people, and carers is to focus on the essentials and not take the time to look after health.  This program is excellent in that it gives people permission to take some time to look after themselves, particularly older men,” said Helen.

A free program open to all men, Sons of the West run sessions in Brimbank, Maribyrnong, Wyndham City, Hobsons Bay and Melton.  Participants learn what’s good for them and what’s not, how to gradually increase their exercise levels, cook healthy meals, and are supported to achieve their goals. 

One thousand men completed the program in its first year of operation in 2014.  Last year Sons of the West saw this number more than double, with 2100 men successfully completing the program in 2015.  This year is the third year of operation and the pre-season started on the 23 February. 

The pre-season is a new addition to the program and consists of 10 weeks of low-level exercise, to get participants ready for the main 2016 program that starts in June 2016.

If you are interested in buddying with someone to support them through the 2016 Sons of the West program, that starts in June, you have a current driver’s license and can dedicate two hours a week to attend a meeting, please contact Helen Kowalyk at annecto David House on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone Helen on 03 9314 0988.