The Walking Group (TWG) was started in 1997 by Bodyworks Gym and Carindale Shopping Centre when owned by Suncorp. Hourly sessions consisting of exercise followed by walking were held on a Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7:45am.
Stiven Kuss became involved with the walking group once a week on a Tuesday morning then increased this to twice a week. He eventually took over managing the group when the Bodyworks Gym was sold.
After a somewhat slow start another session was added. To accommodate this session the days were changed to the current format of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with 7:30am start. In the past Stiven’s wife, son and daughter have assisted with the group.
This year not only marks the 20th year of this walking group, but also Stiven’s 40th wedding anniversary and his 60th birthday.
There have been about 400 participants over the years with between 35 and 45 turning up for exercise each day. TWG is more than just a walking group – some of those who join form relationships and friendships that have lasted for as long as they attend the group and even beyond.
In fact the TWG support structure is very strong. Over the years TWG has helped form friendships that have been cherished for years. Many a walker has found the group helpful to them whilst recovering from illness or the loss of a loved one. When a member faces one of life’s many challenges the support that is provided is to be seen and cherished.
Such is the devotion to the benefits of the exercise that whenever Stiven has been on holidays or overseas and unable to lead the group, volunteers have stepped in trying hard to match Stiven’s distinct style of exercise and walking regime.
Each session starts with ‘low impact’ exercise that runs for ten minutes and is followed by walking until 8:30am. This is of immense benefit to the majority of walkers many of whom are retired and find this an excellent way to get exercise and socialise at the same time. Of course, the tea and coffee break at the coffee shops of Carindale Shopping Centre is the usual way to finish the session.
Annual Christmas gatherings have proven to be a great way for the group to reflect on the past year. Stiven’s short presentation is usually supplemented with a trivia session with awards and numerous prizes handed out.
Over the past 20 years the group has raised money for a child in Africa who needed an artificial leg, helped raise money for a freshwater well for a village in West Africa, raised money for the Victorian bushfire victims, and victims of domestic violence, provided food packages for the homeless and disadvantaged in Brisbane, raised money for cancer research, plus numerous other charities.
Through its efforts Westfield must be commended for its support ever since taking ownership of Carindale Shopping Centre in 1999.
By Leigh Weakley.