// Helping children and communities get active
by Joe Waide
You don’t have to work in the fitness industry to be aware of the obesity problem that exists in modern Australia – seldom a week goes by without the media reporting on startling new statistics of overweight and obesity. But because we do work in the fitness industry, we are in a position to do something about it.
Every year the Australian Sports Commission’s Active After-school Communities program involves up to 150,000 children and their communities in sport and other structured physical activities. The program provides a fantastic opportunity for personal trainers and fi tness professionals to get involved in kids fi tness, while at the same time securing regular, ongoing afternoon work. Personal trainers and fitness instructors are generally remunerated by the organisation that they coach for. Another option is volunteering for local clubs in your area which are in need of your skills. Many volunteers get involved because they know someone already involved in a club, so check with friends or family members to see if they know of any clubs that might need volunteers.
The Active After-school Communities (AASC) program is an Australian Government initiative that provides primary school children with free sport and other structured physical activity programs after school (between the hours of 3pm and 5:30pm). The program is run in 3,250 schools and after-school care centres across Australia.
The program aims to engage traditionally inactive children in sport and other structured physical activities and, through a positive and fun experience, develop a love of sport that motivates them to join a local sporting club. The Australian Sports Commission manages the AASC program nationally through a network of locally-based regional coordinators. The coordinators assist schools and after-school care centres to facilitate the program, recruit and train community coaches, and work with local sporting clubs and organisations to increase junior membership.
The AASC program began in 2005 as a response to a number of societal changes, including increasing sedentary behaviour, decreasing participation in physical activity, mounting time and financial pressures on families making it difficult for extracurricular physical activities for their children, and declining daily physical education in schools due to crowded curriculum.
• Enhance the physical activity levels of Australian primary school children through a nationally coordinated program.
• Provide increased opportunities for inclusive participation in quality, safe and fun sport and other structured physical activity through the AASC program.
• Stimulate local community involvement in sport and other structured physical activity.
THE PHILOSOPHY: PLAYING FOR LIFE
The AASC program aims to provide primary school children with a positive and fun introduction to sport and other structured physical activities, which motivates them to be active for life. This is achieved through a philosophy based on the ‘game sense’ approach to coaching, called ‘playing for life’. The AASC program adopted the ‘playing for life’ philosophy as it creates a fun and inclusive environment for the introduction of sport and other structured physical activities. Rather than focusing on ‘exercise’, this philosophy ensures children have a positive and successful experience through the use of games that are continuously modified to challenge and engage children of all abilities and backgrounds.
INSPIRING KIDS TO FITNESS THROUGH FUN
Inspire Core Camp® 4 KIDS is an example of a program which has been developed in conjunction with the AASC program and which is supported by the Australian Government. The program is nationally registered with the after-school’s program, and lives by the motto: Kids + Play ÷ Hard Work FUN, which fi ts in perfectly with the ‘playing for life’ philosophy.
The program is about engaging kids into becoming ‘buddies’ and developing trust, friendship and respect. While doing this they subconsciously achieve development in their secondary fitness characteristics, e.g. speed, power, agility and balance (but shhh, don’t let them know or they may regard it as ‘exercise’ rather than fun, and lose interest!).
Core Camp® 4 KIDS focuses on getting kids to participate in a ‘multisport/activity’ that helps them develop the skills necessary for their preferred sports (if they play a sport). But more importantly, it is about working together to develop a variety of sports-specific skills without the fear of competition, intimidation and failure. Participation is paramount, and the key to success.
GET INVOLVED IN THE AFTERSCHOOLS PROGRAM
The AASC program off ers opportunities for kids, coaches, schools and clubs. The greater the level of involvement, the greater the positive influence we can exert on the health and wellbeing of the younger generation.
COMMUNITY COACHESCommunity coaches can deliver AASC sessions in a range of sports and activities, from traditional sports (e.g. netball and hockey) to other structured physical activities such as Core Camp® 4 KIDS, dance and circus skills) and non-traditional sports (such as Frisbee and martial arts).
Community coaches can be students, club coaches, teachers, parents, fitness professionals, athletes, volunteers and community members. Free training is provided through the AASC’s community coach training program. Core Camp® 4 KIDS off ers its own separate 1-day training course for coaches.
Children can participate, with their parents or guardians’ permission, in the AASC program if their school or afterschool care centre is an AASC site. There are also great activities for children to play at home available at www.ausport.gov.au/aasc/kids
SCHOOLS AND AFTER-SCHOOL CARE CENTRES
Schools and after-school care centres are able to apply to be part of the AASC program by filling in an expression of interest form, available on the AASC web site.
SPORT CLUBS AND COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS
Sport clubs and community organisations can be involved in many ways – club coaches and members can become AASC community coaches, or the AASC program can help fi nd someone in the local community to coach.
Joe was named Queensland’s Exercise Professional of the Year 2009 and is a previous recipient of Australian Fitness Network’s Personal Trainer of the Year award. The developer of the Core Camp® 4 KIDS Program, he is director of Inspiring Fitness Enterprises Pty Ltd which conducts wine, adventure and cycle tours to New Zealand. Joe also operates personal training studios in Brisbane and is a regular presenter at FILEX and international conventions.
NETWORK MAGAZINE • AUTUMN 2010 • PP58-59