Enabilise: working with users to create new mobility aids

Enabilise is examining how to improve mobility aids such as walking sticks. Photo credit: iStock

Enabilise is examining how to improve mobility aids such as walking sticks. Photo credit: iStock

By Dr Eliza de Vet

How do you imagine yourself as an older person? Are you hunched over your uniform grey walker, fearful of falling, no longer able to bend your knee for a game of lawn bowls?

These are not the images we see for ourselves, but they are scenarios facing older people today. In the next few years, changes to mobility support need to be made, not only for the benefit of future generations, but our own parents and grandparents.

Mobility is key to quality of life, independent living, and physical and mental wellbeing. Maintaining mobility as we age allows us to continue activities as normal, retaining our self-sufficiency and involvement in the community.

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Ageing in leaps and bounds: A Conversation With Professor Alexandre Kalache

Ageing expert Professor Alexandre Kalache at UOW. Photo credit: Paul Jones

Ageing expert Professor Alexandre Kalache at UOW. Photo credit: Paul Jones

By India Lloyd

Professor Alexandre Kalache grew up in the bustling Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, at a time when the average life expectancy for the nation’s citizens was just 43.

More than five decades on that number has almost doubled to 75, a trend that is reflected in developing nations around the world.

However, the rapid pace of ageing, while astonishing in the course of just one generation, poses the greatest challenge to modern society, Professor Kalache says.

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Postcard from Scotland: Talking bras with biomechanists

By Celeste Coltman, Global Challenges Travel Scholar

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow's West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

A popular coblestone street in Glasgow’s West End. Photo credit: Celeste Coltman

With the help of a Global Challenges Travel Scholarship, I attended the 25th Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Glasgow, Scotland. The conference, which was held on July 12-16, is the largest meeting of biomechanists in the world.

I arrived to a cold, wet and rather bleak Glasgow, smack bang in the middle of the Scottish summer, which was not too different to Wollongong in July.

The Scottish are certainly not lucky enough to enjoy the summers that we get, but what they lack in weather they make up for in character.

My Nan is Scottish, but it was actually my first time to Scotland, nonetheless, the accent certainly was very familiar.

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Life as a PhD student abroad: exploring the wonders of Canada

The author hiking in British Columbia, Canada.

The author hiking in British Columbia, Canada.

By Rachael Bartlett,

If I had been told a year and a half ago that I would be spending five months living on the other side of the world I would have been sceptical. After receiving financial support from the Global Challenges Program, advice from my supervisors and completing what felt like tons of paperwork, I found myself in Canada on a rainy July morning.

Knowing no one and having never lived so far from home, I arrived feeling both incredibly excited and terrified.

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Notes from the road: finding inspiration in Israel

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

Professor Bernard Lietaer with the author in Israel.

By Global Challenges PhD Scholar Irit Alony

A trio of special guests was about to visit Israel at the end of May 2014, probably representing three very different interest groups. It was a relatively peaceful time, and Pope Francis was about to pay a visit to the Holy Land. Relatively low security threats made the singer Justin Timberlake and his crew comfortable enough to have a huge concert in HaYarkon Park in Tel Aviv, which is only a few hundred metres from Tel Aviv University.

Those few hundred metres were significant for me – where the third person was visiting.

A far less well-known visitor, but far more meaningful to me, was the world-guru of complementary currency, Professor Bernard Lietaer. Continue reading

Why pregnant women could benefit from better nutrition advice

Many pregnant women do not receive enough iodine in pregnancy. Picture credit: ThinkStock

Many pregnant women do not receive enough iodine in pregnancy. Picture credit: ThinkStock

By Catherine Lucas, Global Challenges PhD Scholar

Whether a mother-to-be’s diet contains adequate nutrients during pregnancy has far-reaching consequences for infant and child health.

Iodine is one such nutrient where even a mild deficiency during pregnancy can result in decreased cognitive outcomes in childhood.

Our research team has recently shown that women would benefit from additional nutritional advice during pregnancy, particularly when it comes to the importance of iodine for a baby’s growth and development.

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Postcard from Perth: overcoming nerves in first conference presentation

 By Amy Carrad, Global Challenges PhD Scholar

Amy Carrad at the Public Health Association of Australia conference in Perth.

The author at the Public Health Association of Australia conference in Perth.

I have had my first taste of mixing with the big guns in public health.

The lead-up to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) conference was terrifying. People would ask me if I was excited. Excited was definitely not the right word.

The stress subsided a little once I actually had my two oral presentations prepared. It felt like a big responsibility to be asked to deliver two presentations, based on the research I did for my Honours project last year, because I still see myself as a somewhat of a ‘mere student’, despite many people assuring me that is not the case.

I didn’t know what to expect – how big would the conference be? What would the other presentations be like? Would mine be good enough?

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Dementia-Friendly Communities: Kiama public lecture a success

By India Lloyd

Speakers Kate Swaffer and Veda Meneghetti at the public lecture held at Kiama Anglican Church.

Speakers Kate Swaffer and Veda Meneghetti at the public lecture held at Kiama Anglican Church.

Kiama is one of the first communities in Australia set to become dementia friendly, and hundreds of people turned out to a public lecture last week to find out exactly how the initiative will be implemented.

Research and Action to Pioneer Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations, a collaboration between the Global Challenges Program and Alzheimer’s Australia, aims to help the Kiama community respond to the challenges that stem from the debilitating illness of dementia.

Kiama Anglican Church was full on Tuesday, September 16, the crowd a mixture of ages, as members of the community listened to experts in the field of dementia and people living with dementia share their experience and vision for the region.

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Brightening lives through Illawarra SOUP

 By Global Challenges PhD Scholar Amy Carrad

Participants enjoy their bowls of soup and community pitch at the Thirroul Illawarra SOUP. Photo credit: Amy Carrad

Participants enjoy their bowls of soup and community pitch at the Thirroul Illawarra SOUP. Photo credit: Amy Carrad

This month the Illawarra held its inaugural SOUP event in Warilla and Thirroul.

Illawarra SOUP is a community gathering that supports members of the community who are seeking funds for a project. My project, which aims to promote health and wellbeing among sporting and community clubs, was one of four that was presented at the Thirroul event.

Attendees pay $5 for a bowl of delicious homemade soup, good company and to hear about four community projects.

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How a bowl of soup can help the community

Illawarra SOUP is a small-grants dinner that aims to help the community. Photo credit: ThinkStock

Illawarra SOUP is a small-grants dinner that aims to help the community. Photo credit: ThinkStock

By Global Challenges PhD Scholar Amy Carrad

I will be presenting a pitch for my Healthy Gymnastics Program to seek local community, grassroots funding to give a kick-start to my PhD project at the Illawarra SOUP night next week.

Applications are open to anyone in the community, no matter how big or small, or the nature of the project.

What is a SOUP night?

Community members are invited to a dinner, bringing $5 to donate (or more if you like)
•  A simple dinner of soup, bread, similar is served
•  During dinner you listen to eight project pitches, each four minutes long, from people working on community projects – four that are ready to go and four that are in the ideas stage
•  Discuss the projects or whatever else you want to with others at the dinner
•  Cast your vote for the community project you want to help fund•  The project with the most votes goes home with all the money donated on the night
•  The winner comes back to a future SOUP dinner to tell us how the project went

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