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Breathing spaces


This community-led wellbeing strategy involves the development of community ‘breathing spaces’. Breathing spaces may be places to connect with other people; they may be places to go for ‘time-out’ from stressful situations. The purpose and essence of each breathing space will be defined by the groups we work with to create them. The idea of breathing spaces came from a community group run by HEART Parenting, which is part of the HEART Movement. HEART promotes healthy relationships through growing loving, safe and supportive relationships in the Tāmaki area.

The project is taking a human centred design approach and is in its early stages of development. The team has spoken with a number of people in Tāmaki to identify what breathing spaces currently exist why they are of value to the people using them. Some examples given are places, like the libraries and community gardens, others are groups, like ‘Just for Dads’. The work was enriched recently by Auckland DHB supporting team members to attend a two-day workshop “Activating Communities to create health”. Held at Ko Awatea, Counties Manukau District Health Board’s Innovation hub, the workshop introduces participants to the theory and practice of community organising and the leadership practices that support this. Anne Purcell and Anna Meredith of HEART Parenting found the training extremely valuable. Here’s what they had to say…

“I just want to say a massive thank you for the opportunity to work with you both at Ko Awatea over the past two days. It was awesome to be able to focus on Breathing Spaces together in such a supportive environment. I have taken away an enormous amount from the experience about activating communities to create health as well as creating wellbeing together in Tāmaki!” (Anne – HEART Parenting Coordinator, Glen Innes Family Centre)

“What an awesome two days! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of what I found to be such a valuable learning experience. I feel very privileged. I agree with Anne, the Activating Communities to promote health two day workshops provided a refreshing and doable way of connecting with our community which I’m itching to share and put into practice. Working with you both on our Breathing Space project throughout was a bonus the perfect icing on the cake!” (Anna – a community volunteer and member of the HEART parenting network)


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