Beautiful Sisters of the Manning win 2016 Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge Shield

Healthy winners: Evelyn Aiken, Debbie Ballangarry and Rhondalene Paulson holding the winning shield.

Healthy winners: Evelyn Aiken, Debbie Ballangarry and Rhondalene Paulson holding the winning shield.

​An all-girls’ team from Taree and Wingham – The Beautiful Sisters of the Manning – has won the 2016 Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge Shield, surpassing 31 other teams across the state in the race against obesity.

The 29-strong team stepped up to receive the Shield last night at the Knockout gala dinner held at the Souths’ Juniors League Club in Kingsford.

The NSW Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge is a joint initiative of NSW Health and NSW Rugby League, inviting Aboriginal communities to participate in an annual program to lose weight and improve their health.

NSW Rugby League Origin and Blues’ Coach and Knockout Challenge Ambassador, Laurie Daley, said the 800-plus participants in 32 Knockout teams across the state deserved a huge shout out for confronting the obesity challenge head on.

“Making positive changes to your health and lifestyle isn’t easy, but great outcomes can be achieved through teamwork which is what the Knockout teams have successfully shown,” Mr Daley said.

“Collectively, the Knockout participants have lost almost 1000kg and they achieved this by supporting and encouraging one another to push through the challenges – like all the best Rugby League teams.”

The 2016 Knockout events included two 10 week weight loss challenges – the George Rose and Julie Young challenges – as well as the Kyle Saunders Video Challenge in which teams design a three minute workout or nutrition video to demonstrate teamwork, strength, stamina, rugby league and cooking skills.

Shield winners, the Beautiful Sisters of the Manning, also snared an award in the Nutrition Category of the Kyle Saunders Video Challenge and achieved third place in the Julie Young Challenge.

Team leader of the Beautiful Sisters of the Manning, Michelle Wilkes, said the team decided to join the Knockout Challenge to prevent chronic health problems, improve self-esteem and eat healthy tucker to live longer lives.

“It was about weight loss as well and being healthier and looking after ourselves.  It’s good for people’s mental health to exercise too – you learn that along the way,” Ms Wilkes said.

“The Knockout Challenge is about preventative health and care for the Aboriginal community. We’re an all-women group and women are the backbone of the community, so we’re sharing the messages in our homes, families and community about health and fitness.”

Ms Wilkes said the team experience had been amazing and their statewide win was due to the efforts and dedication of every team member.

“The ladies are glowing – it’s been life changing. I’m really proud of the girls – for all their hard work, dedication and commitment through all the pain, the challenges and the hard yards over 20 weeks and the fact they kept coming back to the program and exercise classes and staying on for the dietician sessions.

“The Beautiful Sisters of the Manning are a strong bunch of amazing women and they deserve every good thing that comes out of this. They’re all very supportive and encouraging to other women in what they have achieved.”

Executive Director of NSW Health’s Centre for Population Health, Dr Jo Mitchell, said participants in the Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge had not only helped themselves but also the broader community by raising awareness of the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating and making positive changes to their lifestyle behaviours to combat obesity and other life threatening diseases.

“Poor diet and physical inactivity contribute to Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases,” Dr Mitchell said.

“An average weight loss of two kilograms reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 30 per cent and the Knockout Challenge participants have achieved an average weight loss of 2.1 kg of body weight.

“The Aboriginal Knockout Health Challenge, now in its sixth year, continues to inspire communities and achieve results. But it’s all the participants who make this program a success and help to reduce the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.”