A program to increase physical activity in Ballarat’s children and reduce their screen time has received a big tick from its young participants.
Two hundred year three and four pupils from Pleasant Street and St Columba’s primary schools trialled the Active Ballarat Passport, which will be rolled out to schools across the city next year.
Pupils were encouraged to record their activity levels, healthy food consumption and water intake for a month, combined with lessons on staying healthy and the benefits of physical activity.
Pleasant Street Primary teacher Hayley Marie noticed the difference in her charges in the classroom.
“The students have really taken on board some of the things they learned in the Active Passport … and they were more active in the classroom and more focused,” she said.
The benefits were also seen at home with many children telling Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh, who visited to give the class their active prizes, that they had encouraged their siblings and parents to be more active too.
“My brother used to be attached to his iPad but when I was doing tricks on my trampoline he wanted to do tricks too and we played outside for hours,” Eliza said.
RELATED STORY: Chance to say what this city needs to be more active
“Sometimes you think playing on the iPad is more fun but when you get outside and start playing you realise that’s way more fun than the iPad, and you’re out in the fresh air and your eyes don’t get bad,” Taylah said.
The City of Ballarat’s Active Ballarat Passport Pilot Program was piloted for four weeks in conjunction with VicHealth’s Walk to School program, with the data they collected now being used to help young people incorporate healthy travel and activity in to their daily lives.
Cr McIntosh visited the school to give the students prizes for their contribution to the project.
“When I did my nursing training we did a lot of work on the effects of the way your body works by doing activity. It makes your body operate in a different way and makes you feel better,” she told the class.
“Sitting still inside and not getting as much sunshine doesn’t give you the same energy and endorphins as doing activity outside.”
Cr McIntosh said the pilot program would link to the work council were doing on the new Active Ballarat recreational strategy to increase activity among people of all ages.
“Getting young people thinking about their health from an early age will set them up for life, and we know supporting them to do this is just as important – that’s why we have piloted this program in 2018,” Cr McIntosh said.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.