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Kristen Pratt:Capital Nordic Walking: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

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Kristen Pratt:Capital Nordic Walking: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Improving health one step at a time

Pioneer. Dynamic. Altruistic

Occupational therapist Kristen Pratt is on a mission to encourage people of all ages to improve their health while having fun.

She founded Capital Nordic Walking to share her passion for the healthy activity, which involves using walking poles.

Kristen has taught Nordic walking to over one thousand Canberrans of all fitness levels, including those with mobility or health challenges and the frail elderly. She helps them to keep walking by linking them into free groups through an outreach program.

The comradery gives people the motivation to make exercise a habit. This helps them reduce stress and their risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, arthritis and heart disease, she says.

Kristen can’t believe she has been voted a Westfield Local Hero. “Doing community work is like a gift that gives back,” she says.

“I meet amazing people with incredible life experiences and seeing them smile and getting stronger is an amazing thing.”

Kristen discovered Nordic walking eight years ago while in Switzerland working on disability and rehabilitation with the World Health Organisation.

She was impressed when it aided her recovery from a frozen shoulder.

She completed an instructor course and has been making health professionals aware of the benefits, resulting in many referrals of patients to her growing program of free walking groups.

“People are amazed at how far they travel when walking and talking together and enjoying the beautiful surrounds of Canberra. I am struggling to keep up with the demand,” says Kristin, who is on the boards of Parkinson’s ACT and the International Disability Rights Fund.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Capital Nordic Walking will use its grant to fund the training of a much-needed volunteer network so it can expand across Canberra.

“We can’t keep up with demand,” says Kristen. “A lot of people can’t join our walks as it’s too expensive for them to travel to meet up with our current groups, so this grant will have a huge impact.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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