From the archive: Meet Vanuatu’s ‘aqua mamas’
Women participating in an aqua aerobics program in Vanuatu say it has encouraged them to jump in the water for the first time.
First published February 2019.
An aqua aerobics program in the sparkling waters of Vanuatu is encouraging women of all ages to jump in the water and get fit, in many cases for the first time.
The program, which is funded by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnerships, runs weekly sessions in Port Vila targeted at women of all ages.
In a new video, some of the ‘aqua mamas’ participating in the program reveal that it has inspired them to take control of their physical fitness, and exercise regularly, for the first time in their lives.
“I tried some sports in the past, but I didn’t really take them seriously. But aqua (aerobics), I take it seriously. I make sure I attend every class,” participant Viviane said.
“When I exercise in the water, my body feels so relaxed. After an aqua session we feel we have freshened up our mind and are ready to go back to work.”
Fellow participant Gloria agrees that the aqua program has allowed her to feel comfortable exercising, despite her weight.
“If you’re a bit overweight, you can still easily move in the water,” she explained. “At the end of the session you don’t feel like you have exercised. You just feel like you’ve had fun.”
The aqua aerobic program is delivered by Australian volunteer, Tracy Elliott, who is spending two years in Vanuatu as a community support officer with Vanuatu Aquatics Federation, supported by the Australian Government’s Australian Volunteers Program.
“It’s a fun, social, safe environment for all mamas to participate in sporting exercise,” explains Tracy. “A lot of the mamas have said to me that after the session, they always feel happy and mentally refreshed.”
With the support of the Pacific Sports Partnerships, Vanuatu Aquatics Federation is also delivering essential learn to swim programs across six communities on the main island of Efate. These programs focus on basic water safety and stroke development.
Once children are able to swim confidently, many choose to play in the federation’s water polo development program. Through PSP, this program will expand in 2019 to focus on gender inclusion messaging with adolescents.