Ethiopian Community in the West Local Drug Action Team held a free family fun day for the community at Maidstone Community Centre, on a beautiful sunny day in late November.
LDAT spokesperson and filmmaker Yonas Shefaraw said the event was aimed at promoting health and wellbeing, engaging community members, and encouraging families to participate in fun social activities.
“We want to disseminate our message about the benefits of sport to all community members,” Yonas said.
“Sport helps to form strong bonds across our diverse community. It promotes an active lifestyle and supports good mental health.”
The ‘Let’s Get Active Together’ family day included a range of activities. There were soccer clinics run by Melbourne Victory, a friendly soccer match, martial arts, yoga, a DJ, a coffee ceremony and face painting. A highlight of the day was the hip hop workshops led by a local dance crew, which got all the kids up and moving.
As well as a sausage sizzle, a local Ethiopian restaurant provided cheap and delicious food, and free fruit and water was available for children.
Staff from many organisations, including the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, volunteered to help the event run smoothly. Community services such as Headspace and DrugInfo held information stalls, helping families to link up with local health services that they may otherwise not have known about.
“This project has brought together a range of community members and has really showcased the many strengths of our community,” Yonas said.
In the lead-up to the event, the Local Drug Action Team produced a short music video called The Power of Sport. Sport is a known protective factor against the harms from alcohol and other drugs. It also helps build connections and provide healthy recreational activities.
“Increasing social connection through participating in sporting activities can act as a protective factor. This plays a major role in reducing the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. This event was all about bringing that awareness to our communities.” - Jonathan Haileyesus, One Blood United.
The video, which was launched at the family day, featured children from the local Ethiopian community. Filmmaker and musician Yonas introduced the film with a few words in his first language of Amharic. During the viewing, the whole crowd was clapping along to the music. There was a lot of excitement in the room.
After the music video was shown, Emma Seyoum from the Ethiopian Women’s Alliance presented a thank-you present to Imke Wittebrood. Imke, a representative of Maribyrnong Council, has been leading the LDAT since inception early in 2019. She is now going back home to her native Netherlands.
The LDAT members also acknowledged Janelle Gibson, Senior Community Development Officer with the ADF and Relationship Manager for the LDAT, for her passion and hands-on involvement in the community.
“We were so happy with the turnout, with families from a diverse range of cultures alongside many from the Ethiopian community. Much laughter, lots of passion and pride and a few tears during speeches (yes, my hand is up!),” said Janelle.
In the afternoon, the Yidnekechew Tessema Social Soccer Club (YTSSC) played Victoria Police in a friendly match. The idea of the game was to promote community connection. Families walked across the road to the soccer pitch to watch the game and enthusiastically cheered from the sidelines.
“What really brings us together is this sense of belongingness. When we come on the soccer pitch together it teaches us all about hard work, healthy competitions, inclusiveness, friendship.” - Ashenafi Betric, YTSCC member.
The LDAT members were all proud to see their hard work culminate in an event that the whole community enjoyed. It brought together people from various cultures and generations to enjoy a day of music, sport and food.
“I found that ultimately if you truly put your heart into what you believe in, even if it makes you vulnerable, you can make a difference.” - Emma Seyoum, Ethiopian Women’s Alliance.
Ethiopian Community in the West Local Drug Action Team is a partnership between Maribyrnong Council, Ethiopian Women’s Alliance, One Blood United, Sobaoth Christian Media and Arts Ministry and Yidnekachew Tessema Social Soccer Club.