Thriving - DAYS Program

Exercise for Youth Substance Use Disorders

Delivered & evaluated in partnership with the University of Western Australia - School of Human Sciences, UWA Exercise & Performance Centre and Next Step Drug & Alcohol Services - WA Mental Health Commission, and supported by 2018-2020 Commonwealth Bank Grassroots Community Grant

The project ... 

The Thriving-DAYS initiative delivers a tailored weekly exercise program for youth attending the WA Drug and Alcohol Youth Services (DAYS) residential and detox services.

Designed and delivered by the Thriving team alongside staff from the UWA Exercise & Performance Centre, the program is designed to support the physical and mental health of youth undergoing treatment for substance use disorders (SUD), and shed light on the potential role of exercise within these programs.


In partnership with UWA School of Human Sciences this program will be evaluated through investigating the impact of a structured exercise program on:

(a) physical and mental health outcomes,

(b) compliance to one’s rehabilitation program/goals

(c) exercise related perceptions, among youth undergoing treatment for SUD and associated mental health disorders.


Why is this project important ... 

Substance use disorders (aka addiction) are a common mental health disorder experienced by young people affecting 12.7% of Australian youths. Youth taking part in SUD residential programs are significantly ‘at risk’ for short/long term impacts on health, exacerbated by inactivity. Exercise implemented in adult SUD populations has demonstrated benefits, however youth services are severely under serviced in WA and nationally.


Our pilot program included 60 youth over a 12mth period with a 92% exercise participation rate, and 87% of youth reporting they enjoyed the sessions.  In line with Thriving aims, this program will develop and extend specialised youth SUD exercise knowledge and services via educational pathways. The program will shed light on the feasibility, effectiveness, and role of structured exercise programs as a recovery and rehabilitation service among youth within residential SUD treatment programs.


Current Service & Evaluation Team:

  • Program Management, Research & Evaluation: Dr Bonnie Furzer & Ms Kemi Wright (Thriving Inc.)

  • Project Evaluation & Research: Dr Ben Jackson & Dr James Dimmock (PAHL Group); Mr Allan Colthart (Next Step Drug and Alcohol Service); Dr Amanda Rebar (CQ University).

  • Service Delivery: Mr Ben Kramer and UWA Exercise & Performance Centre ​(EPC); Mr Dave Tudori; UWA Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology Students

With thanks and acknowledgement of previous contributions from Dr Ashleigh Thornton (UWA), Mr Dylan Warner (UWA EPC), Ms Alyssa More (Hons Research Student) and UWA Clinical Placement Student volunteers.

Next Step
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MHC18 23997  Bonnie Furzer UWA, Alex Arp
Thriving-DAYS Exercise Program