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Healthier Choices Canberra is helping your kids get the tasty, nutritious food they need to perform on and off the field.
Whether it’s a balmy afternoon of touch football or a frosty morning on the sidelines of the netball court, finding healthier snacks during junior sport can be tough.
But this season, the ACT Government’s Healthier Choices Canberra initiative has teamed up with seven local sporting codes to change that.
The ACT has the highest participation rate in junior sport out of all Australian states and territories, with 73% of kids getting involved, so making sure our junior clubs promote positive lifestyle choices is essential to the health of our community.
The Healthier Choices initiative is working to help junior sport canteens transition to healthier offerings, encourage healthier half-time snacks, and connect clubs with sponsors that align with their values.
Steve Maher, the AFL regional manager for the ACT, has already begun to see changes in his community.
“The sporting community is a crucial part of our city, so it’s great that the ACT Government is being proactive and leading the way for sporting organisations,” he says. “Being part of a club and sports community provides a real sense of belonging and purpose for so many families, as well as the opportunity to get out and be active.”
Netball ACT has been an enthusiastic member of Healthier Choices Canberra. President Louise Bilston has seen great results across the board.
“We’ve welcomed the opportunity for our members to participate in this groundbreaking program that offers real support and guidance,” she says. “Sporting canteens can be the heart of the sport and a place where people gather on game days, so we want to make sure our canteens support kids’ health as well as supporting the clubs financially.”
Netball is the largest female participation sport in the ACT and Australia, and Louise is passionate about setting a strong example for future athletes.
“The opportunity for our sport to offer healthier canteen options to our members, our junior members, while maintaining the same level of programs and events is extremely important. In 2019 we made a good start in one of our canteens and look forward to continuing our work across the other netball districts with the aim to benefit all our members and the wider community.”
Of course, sports organisations may need some advice on where to start. That’s where local business owner Daniel Conroy comes in.
He offers mentoring to sports canteens in the form of practical advice to volunteers who are often working with extremely limited resources, both financially and in the canteen itself.
“At my cafe, the Knox Made in Watson, we try and do things the right way, the healthy way,” he says. “So when I’m working with sports canteens I can provide direction in terms of menu development, staff training, advice on equipment set-up, the whole scope of how to run a successful food and beverage outlet with the end goal of promoting healthy eating.”
As someone who plays sport himself, he is optimistic about the positive effects the program can have on kids and families.
“It’s an area that is begging for change, because we’re seeing a high demand, especially from parents, for healthy, fresh, delicious food. Having some decent food options available really ties into the values of junior sport.”
“Parents put the time and energy into taking their children to sport and volunteering at the club, and they do it because it is great for their children’s health and wellbeing. So, it’s important that we provide an all-round healthy and family-friendly experience.”
Are you a parent looking for healthier choices at junior sport? Want to know how your club can get on board? Visit the sport section on our website www.act.gov.au/healthierchoicescanberra
This editorial was created in partnership with Healthier Choices Canberra. For more information on sponsored partnerships, click here.