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Active Kids Challenge: coming to a school near you

Ashleigh Went

We all know how important it is to be active—we track our fitness, our sleep, our steps, our calories burned—but what about our kids? It’s equally important that children get at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity to stay healthy. Encouraging kids to learn healthy habits and appreciate the benefits of exercise is so important in helping them to develop skills and knowledge to stay healthy not just as children but for the rest of their lives.

As Chief Executive Officer of the Physical Activity Foundation, Lucille Bailie is acutely aware of this. In fact, it’s her mission to lead the Foundation in the delivery of the Active Kids Challenge—an eight-week program run through ACT primary schools that seeks to do just that—get kids more active!

The Program runs in term three of the school year from 27 July to 18 September and is a free, engaging way to teach our kids the importance of being active. The Physical Activity Foundation provides all necessary resources to participating schools including online teacher resources, a cool wall chart for classrooms which maps out the activities throughout the program, mini-wall charts to take home and weekly e-newsletters to keep parents up to date.

“We provide a whole range of different themes, activities, ideas and fun experiences to deliver our key message—that kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day,” Lucille explains.

The accessibility of the information is just part of what makes the program – currently in it’s 9th year of operation – so successful.

“It creates an opportunity to talk about healthy lifestyles in the classroom,” says Lucille, “so that kids can focus on getting active every day.”

Twenty-fifteen presents an opportunity to make the challenge more successful than ever.

“It’s going to be bigger, better, smarter and even cooler this year,” promises Lucille.

As part of the resources to assist schools in delivering the program, a number of brand ambassadors or Activators have been enlisted to support in delivering the message of the program.

“We engage people like Caroline Buchanan and Tim the Yowie Man who help us to encourage kids get active,” explains Lucille. “Caroline for example can encourage kids to get on a bike and ride to school or go down to the local park. We’re lucky to have some fabulous locations in Canberra to use.”

As a world champion and a young Canberran, Caroline has a particular influence over younger Canberrans—especially during the “Ride or Walk” theme.

“Over the course of the challenge we have four fortnights to which we attribute different themes,” says Lucille.

“For two weeks we’ll have Caroline helping us promote a lot of the activities around riding or walking. Caroline will come with us and help us deliver our message through school visits. When we walk into a school yard with Caroline Buchanan and a bright BMX bike, it just makes our message delivery so much more effective.”

As a mother and a Women’s National Basketball League Life Member and former Opal, Lucille is well equipped to lead the challenge. She’s in great company with the support of Program Manager Emma Tattam—another mum with a passion for getting kids active.

Recently, Harriet Walker has also joined the team. You may recognise that name from our Fitness Roadtest or from Kate Freeman’s The Healthy Eating Hub Harriet is a woman who is across all facets of health and fitness. As a qualified personal trainer with many years of experience in the industry, as well as a fully qualified nutritionist, Harriet is a quality addition to the team and her passion and drive is sure to contribute to the success of this year’s program.

On average, the Active Kids Challenge has about a 70 per cent participation rate from ACT primary schools—a percentage which Lucille describes as “excellent”.

“What we’ll be doing this year is building on that—consolidating what we have, improving the delivery, and there’s some really exciting new elements that we’ll be pushing through with this year’s challenge.”

How can you help? Well if you’ve got kids participating in the challenge, you can assist by getting active at home. While ACT primary schools in partnership with the Physical Activity Foundation will endeavour to get kids active during school hours, each child and school is different. Try and be aware of what your child is doing at school and make up the difference at home—whether that be going for a family walk, kicking around the footy or shooting some hoops in the driveway before dinner—every bit helps.

If you’d like to find out more about the Active Kids Challenge, visit the website. Registrations for schools close on Friday 27 March.

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Ashleigh Went

Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. She’s currently furthering her studies in nutrition, but also has a Bachelor of Communication and is a qualified fitness instructor with over five years experience working in a gym. Among other things, she’s a lover of great food, coffee and fashion. She can usually be found shopping for activewear, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue More about the Author