Spirited team jumps in to STEPtember charity for cerebral palsy

In step … Clinical psychologist Carlie Dodds, occupational therapists Naomi Van Leeuwen, Dorinda An, Ellen McBriarty, clinician Lachlan McCausland, administration officer Mandy Durham and team leader Hemal Joshi represent the wider PEIRS team supporting STEPtember.

Eager to move together for cerebral palsy, staff from various departments across the district have donned their walking shoes, limbered up and hit “go” on their FitBits.

STEPtember continues to capture the imagination and drive staff to literally put one foot in front of the other for a great cause.

And there’s so many reasons to take part. Whether it’s raising funds, highlighting the benefits of walking, or just shedding some winter weight, STEPtember has taken hold across the Western Sydney Health District (WSLHD).

It seems the COVID factor has also played its part in encouraging teams to join in and for sponsors to support the charity as it heads towards $5 million raised this year.

Hemal Joshi, team leader at the Prevention Early Intervention and Recovery Services (PEIRS) in North Parramatta, said every team had been shaken up during COVID.

“Our mental health patients (aged 12-25) have suffered during the pandemic,” Hemal said. “And there have been more calls to our service as the anxiety increases.

 “This has created a ripple effect through to staff as we help deal with the crisis.”

He said STEPtember arrived at the perfect time – to boost energy levels and bring the 19-strong PEIRS team even closer together.

“Everyone’s been feeling it so this fun but important project is timely.

“It’s a great team-building exercise.”

Senior occupational therapist at PEIRS, Dorinda An, agreed August had been long and draining on the team.

“But we decided to turn the energy around in September and contribute positively towards physical fitness to raise some funds for cerebral palsy,” Dorinda said.

“We currently have three active teams doing STEPtember. So we can observe the healthy competition.”

She said each staff member was getting up early in the morning to walk and continuing the momentum after dinner to reach 10,000 steps each day.

“We already have a positive change in team spirits after one week in. Keep stepping up teams!”

For more information and to find out how to support STEPtember, visit www.steptember.org.au

Contact PEIRS on (02) 9840 3549 or for more information about mental health services across the WSLHD, go to www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Mental-Health-Services/Our-Services