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How laughter became a gem for Central Highlands’ wellbeing

A gemstone held between thumb and forefinger, found in Queensland gemfields

Almost 2 years ago, Queensland introduced a pilot program to strengthen community wellbeing and connection. The Wheel of Wellbeing (WOW) originated in the United Kingdom and is based on positive psychology, backed by research that shows particular practices in daily living enhance personal wellbeing and resilience.

Laughter yoga is an integral part of the WOW program, playing a part across most of the sectors: body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet.

Indeed when introduced to Queensland community and education sector stakeholders back in August 2016, I was the laughter yoga facilitator the Queensland Mental Health Commission called on to give a demo!

My ears have been to the ground ever since, curious as to the take-up of WOW in the three pilot areas (Townsville, Central Highlands and Logan) with three different delivery formats: community-based, digital and service organisations.

Central Highlands was the community-based pilot and I was thrilled to have one of the region’s WOW community volunteers attend my 2-day laughter leader training in Rockhampton this week.

A woman smiles as she holds her laughter yoga leader certificateKim Tomson lives in Rubyvale, about 330km west of Rockhampton. As happens in small rural communities, she’s pretty much involved in anything and everything.

Kim had incorporated a handful of laughter yoga exercises as used in WOW training. Over the 2 days of laughter leader training, Kim said she learned so much more, in terms of practical exercises and the theory, science and philosophy that makes laughter yoga such a powerful community wellbeing connector.

The Queensland Mental Health Commission recently committed a further $288,000 over 2 years for the Central Highlands Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing hub, extending the WOW program to more communities including into the Isaac region.

As Carmel Marshall from the hub’s host CentacareCQ said: “the great thing about the hub program is that it is building capacity in local people so that mental wellbeing activities don’t rely on service providers. When the initiative ends, the community can continue to take a positive approach to mental wellbeing.”

Will laughter clubs become a part of Central Highlands wellbeing fabric? WOW: wouldn’t that be great!!

(c) 2018 Heather Joy Campbell


The Happydemic’s founder Heather Joy Campbell is a certified Laughter Yoga teacher and global ambassador for Laughter Yoga International. Brisbane-based, she facilitates laughter wellbeing sessions in workplaces, aged care centres and communities throughout Queensland, trains laughter leaders and leads a weekly community-based laughter club.