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Challenging obesity: The Bravest heads to school

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It’s no secret that high school is hard. Between academic stress, making and maintaining friendships, and the pressures that come with adolescence, high school students are some of the bravest of our youth.

How fitting that Canberra personal trainer Lee Campbell is introducing the Schools Obstacle Course Challenge (SOCC) to ACT students this week in the lead up to The Bravest event this weekend.

“I designed The Bravest on everyday people who conquer their fears and are brave about things they face,” says Lee.

“Some are terribly ill, some have cerebral palsy, whatever the challenge is everyone has their own story. It’s not about who’s the fittest or the strongest, but about the braveries they have to overcome challenges every day.”

The philosophy translates beautifully for high school students, who often face the greatest difficulty in dealing with self esteem and body image.

“You know, body image is one of those really big things with school kids and unfortunately with the way schooling works, we see kids given recognition because they’re fitter, or faster, or really good at football, rather than just having a go,” Lee says.

“SOCC is about every person making it at their own level – whether you play piano or are into dance, whether you do ballet – whatever it is that you do.”

That’s perhaps one of the greatest parts of SOCC—it breaks down what is often viewed as an intimidating sport or fitness challenge, and makes it accessible to a range of young people, irrespective of natural strength or agility. There is problem solving interspersed with the obstacles, making it a mental challenge as well as a physical one. More than anything, however, the challenge has a strong emphasis on teamwork.

“It’s focussed on anti bullying, anti obesity, mentoring, communication and leadership,” Lee explains. “In years 7-12, we all have those different pressures as we grow up, and the SOCC is about your group, your class, your year level, all getting together and overcoming an obstacle. All of a sudden it brings these kids into a place of teamwork and camaraderie.”

The Challenge aims to break down social barriers and bring students together by delivering engaging content that facilitates meaningful discussions around health and wellbeing. Lee says, “Once they achieve these things, once they cross that finish line, they’ve got a sense of place within each other and respect each other. They’ve battled, helped each other and come out the other side so they suddenly have something to talk to each other about, and a reason to be around each other.”

The first of its kind not only in Australia but in the world, the challenge will be facilitated through classes for ACT students in years 9-12. “The ACT Education and Training Directorate have ticked off on it, they’re very happy to support and want it to reach into their outdoor education and PE classes,” says Lee.

The event will take place at Stromlo Forest Park, and will see over 300 students participating over 2 days from different schools, age groups and levels of fitness.

“The teams will take anywhere up to 30 minutes to get through, depending on how they work together through the challenge. From there, the next step is we’ll have a Territory championship and then a national championship,” explains Lee.

“It will be at the 2km running track at Stromlo, the teams will take anywhere up to 30 minutes to get through – again it depends on how well they work together through the challenge. And then from there, the next step is we’ll have a Territory championship and then stage championships, then a national championship.”

Lee has big plans for the SOCC, with events to take place across the nation. Going forward, Lee hopes to enlist the support of local heroes from communities to engage with students in the two weeks leading up to the Challenge and teaching students about leadership, communication, and life skills that they may not experience outside of the school grounds.

The intention is that students walk away with a greater awareness about positive lifestyle choices, as well as improved teamwork and communication skills.

If you like the sound of the Schools Obstacle Course Challenge, but you’re well beyond your high school years, The Bravest obstacle course challenge is taking place this Saturday (14 March) and will feature over 30 manmade and natural obstacles.

Haven’t been training? The event is suitable for participants of all fitness levels so that everyone can get involved – as an individual or a team. “Anyone can do it,” says Lee, “you can walk between obstacles, you can run between them – it’s about you challenging yourself.”

Participants can register online or on the day.

Whether you’re a hardcore obstacle course addict or just looking to have a go and challenge yourself, The Bravest is sure to be a fun social event and a great way to get some exercise this weekend.

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