It’s possible you may have seen a group of people active in your local community, wearing vibrant blue Rotary polo shirts. If you haven’t yet, you may come across these people very soon.

Australian Rotary Health Ambassador Chris Edwards came up with the Rotary Fitness initiative in an attempt to address the perception that Rotary is an ‘old men’s club’. His idea was to try to shift perceptions of Rotary to one of a more ‘vibrant’ and ‘active’ organisation through the use of these sporting shirt designs. At the same time, spreading the Australian Rotary Health message of “healthy minds, bodies and communities”.

“To achieve this, I came up with the idea of using bold graphics in Rotary colours depicting different sports. It’s really an outdoor advertising campaign in the form of shirts,” Chris said.

“We designed these sports graphics for the shirts so that they stand out in a crowd and draw attention. So far, in testing, the designs seem to have the desired result.”

“It is easy to mistake the Rotary Fitness initiative as simply a business venture selling shirts. It isn’t. The shirts are just the advertising medium. This is really a self-funded outdoor advertising campaign for Rotary, and specifically, Australian Rotary Health, that we hope will inspire more people to get active.”

To start the project, Chris put his money where his mouth was and personally funded the design and development of the shirts. He then garnered the support for the concept from fellow Rotarians and Rotary District 9710. The project is fully self-funded by Rotarians and the profit from the shirts goes into an Australian Rotary Health Fitness Fund, to be used to create new medical research scholarships. No Rotarians profit from the activity at all.

Most of all, Chris hopes the campaign will inspire Rotarians to think seriously about looking after themselves, “Health is something people of all ages should be conscious of.”

“It is one thing to put ‘Service above Self’, but if you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be much good to anyone,” Chris said.

“Another objective of the shirts is to help attract attention and start conversations with people of all ages. These shirts use sport to help break down generational communication barriers.”

Already, the Rotary Fitness initiative has donated over $4,500 to Australian Rotary Health from the sales of Rotary Fitness shirts and Chris hopes to raise enough to fund a new scholarship by this time next year.

The range of designs cover 12 sports so far. To find out more about Rotary Fitness, or purchase your own polo shirt or cycling jersey, visit the Rotary Fitness website.