Case study: The Women’s Spirit Project

Life energy partnered with the Victorian Government's Pick My Project initiative to address a gap for women experiencing disadvantage in the Frankston area.

Project partner: Life energy
Region: Southern Metro
Budget: $50,600
Votes: 240

The Women’s Spirit Project (WSP) was established in 2018 to address a ‘gap’ for women experiencing disadvantage in the Frankston area. 

'There’s a community of women who are really struggling, and this community of women need support outside of case management and counselling,' explains WSP Founder Jodie Belyea.

The grassroots, volunteer-led pilot aimed to fill this gap by providing vulnerable women with the opportunity to build their confidence, courage and resilience through a 20-week fitness, health and wellbeing program. 

Offering this program at no cost to participants was critical, so for Jodie, 'the [Pick My Project] timing was impeccable. The universe was shining on us!'

'I was elated, thrilled, jumping out of my skin when I found out we’d been successful.'

With enough funding under their belt, the pilot could finally come to life. 

Seventeen women were mentored weekly by volunteers to develop their physical fitness, practice mindfulness, learn about nutrition, and develop their goal-setting, communication and team working skills. 

All this culminated in a 67km trek across three nights and four days, from Frankston to Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula.

'[The trek] was designed to test the women, to be out in the elements, to work as a team,' says Jodie.

She believes such an achievement resets their perception of self and gives them a foundation to build upon for them and their children.

This empowerment was evident in the women. 'Being on this track now, there’s no height I cannot climb,' remarked one participant.

Many of the women said the program was life-changing. An evaluation survey conducted by Monash University agreed. The findings of the participant survey saw enhanced feelings of personal wellbeing, connectedness, self-esteem, physical self-perception and resilience.

The design of the pilot has served as an outstanding example of collective impact, of groups from different sectors coming together to solve a specific social problem. 

'What I have seen from the get-go is a project that has mobilised volunteers in the community, women from all walks of life with lots of different skills, and lots of different organisations. All getting involved to support other women and their families,' says Jodie.

'For me, it’s an example of driving social change from the grassroots up, not always the top down.'

Now, Jodie and the WSP team are looking to the future. They’re working to develop a sustainable non-profit business model to continue to help inspire, empower and transform women’s lives. 

Reviewed 24 March 2021

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