Western Bulldogs Sons of the West Program ripple effects: building community capacity.
Professional sporting organisations can provide lifestyle-based community health improvement programs. Since 2014, the Western Bulldogs Australian Football League Club, through its Western Bulldogs Community Foundation (WBCF), has invested with community partners in the Sons of the West (SOTW) Program, a 10-week program targeted at hard-to-reach men aged ≥18 years living in Victoria’s West. The SOTW Program aims to increase its participants’ physical activity, social connectedness and overall health.
Evaluations by the WBCF revealed the SOTW is positively contributing to improved healthier lifestyles and health of participants. Anecdotal reports revealed the SOTW was creating ripples far beyond the Program’s expectations. In 2016–17, the WBCF funded the University of Melbourne to evaluate the SOTW Program ripple effects. An adapted ‘Ripple Effect Mapping’ approach was used, including 13 focus group discussions with 100 SOTW participants.
The SOTW Program is improving men’s social connections, health promoting behaviours, health literacy and creating ripple effects including: local community participation; increased volunteerism; enhanced reciprocity; and increased leadership. Community capacity-building frameworks can explain the SOTW Program ripple effects. Professional sporting organisations can provide lifestyle-based health improvement programs and empower men to contribute to building community capacity.