‘Movement is medicine’ - Rocki’s mantra

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‘Movement is medicine’ is WITT graduate Rocki Robinson’s mantra in her new role as a Green Prescription Advisor at Sport Taranaki. And movement doesn’t have to be a marathon. It could be a simple stroll.

Rocki (Te Atiawa, Nga Ruahine, Tainui) – an A+ student who graduated from WITT in 2022 with Level 4 and 5 New Zealand Certificate in Exercise - is excited about her work.

What is a green prescription/rongoā kākāriki? It’s free service which provides support and motivation to help improve individual wellbeing/Hauora through physical activity and lifestyle changes. You can access this support through a referral from a doctor, practice nurse, health professional or a self-referral.

The concept was developed to support people to manage long term health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and more, as well as those preparing or recovering from surgery, and people who want to improve their health and wellbeing.

An avid sports woman, Pilates specialist and personal trainer at a gym, Rocki avoids the ‘e’ word (exercise) and ‘s’ word (sport) when communicating with her clients as a Green Prescription Advisor. She says these terms can be intimidating for people struggling with health conditions or lifestyle barriers.

“We talk about movement and physical activity – language is important,” she says. “I like the idea of movement as medicine,” she adds.

Her focus is on getting a person started, with small beginnings designed to instill new habits.

At the heart of her work is the ability to build relationships with her clients. In regular catchups, she checks in with how they are doing – and this can be the missing element for some when it comes to lifestyle changes.

“I also try to understand what the barriers are for them to making changes and to find a way to help them. It could be cost, or motivation, or transport.”

“Every client is different – it’s not a ‘one size fits all’. I get to know the person to find what will work for them. Sustainability of any behavioural change is key, “ she says.

“Something I’ve learned from this job is the importance of listening and allowing people to tell me what’s happening for them.”

A daily walk can be life changing

She knows the gym is not for everyone, so she aims to find activity that appeals and is accessible.  “Even a daily walk can be life changing,” she says.

A big part of her job is to inform people of the numerous free or low-cost health, fitness and wellbeing services, support groups and resources that are available in the community.

Rocki enjoys working with elderly clients, with a focus on strength and balance that helps prevent falls and broken bones, as well as with women of all ages, especially new mums who she links up with local walking groups for mums and babies.

Her working life is all about movement, and she continues in her spare time too, playing rugby for Clifton Premier Women’s team as well as basketball, netball, and soccer.

Kieran McKendry | Deputy Director – School of Nursing, Health, and Wellness, says; ‘In the exercise programme at WITT we’re focusing on teaching students about different kinds of goals. It’s not only about gyms and fitness for some of their clients. It’s about making a big difference to people’s daily lives and autonomy through small wins.

“If you can support someone with a serious health challenge or a disability to be able to walk with ease from their bedroom to the kitchen, or get dressed by themselves, or get up out of a chair, or carry a plate without dropping it they feel that much more independent and confident. That’s a win.”

Claire White, Active Lifestyles Lead at Sport Taranaki, says her organisation  and WITT have collaborated over the past three years to create a pathway and provide opportunities each semester  for students to work with Green Prescription participants with long term health conditions.

“Students are supporting the participant and, at the same time, being supported themselves in the safe learning environment created  by the WITT teaching team,” Claire says. 

“It’s been fantastic to provide  a pathway for local employment and career development. This collaboration is undeniably  a win for both groups – students and participants - and this is why both organisations  are committed  to seeing this initiative continue long term.”

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