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  • Written by Tess Sanders Lazarus


While countries across the world including Australia continue to struggle with health issues such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other serious ailments, clearly evidenced by Australia’s Health 2016 report card which shows that Australians are living longer but with more chronic disease, Papua New Guinea is determined to change health outcomes for its people – and is doing so through leading by example.

 

The Honorable Governor of Port Moresby, Mr Powes Parkop, is focused on improving the health and wellbeing of his people and he’s sharing his own personal journey to prove it.   On Sunday 23 June, Governor Parkop, led the way to celebrate World Yoga Day by participating in city organised Yoga and meditation sessions – shorts and all!

 

More than 5,000 people took part in the activities to celebrate World Yoga Day which consisted of Yoga and meditation sessions at the Hubert Murray Stadium in Port Moresby.

 

The activities were delivered by the Active City Development Program (ACDP).  The program is an initiative of Port Moresby’s local city council (NCDC) and is designed to encourage better habits and behaviours across the community to achieve improved health, wellness and social and economic outcomes through participative and inclusive activities.   The ACDP was developed and implemented in 2016 after Port Moresby was chosen as one of the eight selected cities in the world to be endorsed as a Global Active City by the International Olympic Committee.

 

Governor Parkop is a huge advocate of the benefits of Yoga and keenly shares his story about how Yoga has helped him to personally embrace a much healthier lifestyle and become a better leader.   He is now an ardent practitioner of Yoga.

 

Prior to taking up Yoga, Governor Parkop suffered from hyperuricemia (High Uric Acid), height phobia, severely high cholesterol, gout and weight issues.   He weighed in at over 100 kilograms.

 

“I was under a lot of stress from work and travel,” Governor Parkop said today.

 

“When I was not too conscious about my diet and thinking too much about my work and how best to serve my people, I was suffering from health problems.   

 

“My doctor told me that 70 percent of my arteries and veins were clogged.

 

“If I had not changed my lifestyle to what it is now, I would have died. 

 

“My doctor gave me a choice to live on with pills or change my lifestyle.  There was no guarantee that I was going to recover.   As we know, many patients who go to hospital with serious health issues, do not come back.

 

“I did not want to go down that path.    My health, wellness and fitness are critical for my lifestyle and for my role as Governor.   I can not serve the people well if I am not healthy, fit and active.   I can not ask people across the community to improve their health and wellbeing if I am not doing the same.

 

“Yoga has played a key part in helping me to lose weight, reduce my stress levels and improve my overall health and wellbeing.”

 

Governor Parkop attributes his improved health and wellness to Yoga, an 8.1 kilometre walk every Sunday, a 21 kilometre walk once every month and a healthy diet. 

 

“How can leaders facilitate improved health and wellbeing across their cities and countries if they are not leading by example?    I intend to lead by example, encourage others to lead by example and through our efforts and the important work of programs like the Port Moresby Active City Development Program,  improve health and wellness across our city and the whole country.”

 

Governor Parkop has pledged to support the program into the future because of the values of Yoga which promote non-violence, truthfulness, no stealing, self-respect and respect towards others.

 

“Through the Active City Development Program, we are seeing changes in our lives and our city. The program is now being replicated in Mt Hagen.   It is a successful program that is changing the dynamics of our city.   It is making our people to get out of their comfort zones and get healthy by participating in many program activities like kickboxing, acrobatic, yoga and self-defense – and they are all free,” Governor Parkop added.

 

Program Director of ACDP, Fazilah Bazari, said, “I am amazed by the testimonies of change!  When people take ownership of their bodies, engage in activities that makes them feel good about themselves, they action change.  This is sustainable change.”

 

Governor Parkop added, “I’m keen to invite politicians from Australia to Port Moresby to see what we are doing across Papua New Guinea to improve the health and wellbeing of our people.



Who knows where programs like this can go.   Who knows what outcomes they can deliver?  Perhaps they may even assist us to enter a Port Moresby team into the NRL or a women’s team into the National Netball League.  I have pushed to have Port Moresby host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.   Wouldn’t it be great to see Port Moresby hosting an Olympic Games at some time in the future.   Anything is possible!” 

 

Visit www.activecityportmoresby.com for more information or visit videos from active City Port Moresby on YouTube. 

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