A NEW pilot school sports programme will help to increase the number of students following in the footsteps of Australia’s greatest athletes, says the Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
Mr Entsch today joined Athletics Australia and the Australian Sports Commission to launch Athletics Australia’s Sporting Schools pilot programme, IAAF Nestlé Healthy Active Kids’ Athletics, as Cairns prepares to welcome athletes from across the Pacific region for the Oceania Athletics Championships.
He said the $100 million Sporting Schools programme was Australia’s largest school-based participation initiative for children, and part of the Abbott Government’s plan to encourage more children to develop a lifelong interest in sport.
“Athletics and sport in general is a great way to encourage children all across Australia to get excited about active lifestyles ? whether they live in regional towns such as here in Far North Queensland, or capital cities,” Mr Entsch said.
“This investment will help bring schools and sporting organisations such as Athletics Australia together to provide a supportive, fun environment that encourages participation for more than 850,000 Australian children.
“This programme is particularly important considering one-in-four children are now overweight or obese.”
Each year more than 5,700 schools will be funded through Sporting Schools for practical delivery of sports activities that suits their local needs.
Australian Sports Commission CEO Simon Hollingsworth said it was important for sporting bodies to work together to develop an engaging and supportive environment for Australian children.
“Participation in sport at a young age is critical to help children develop a deep connection to sport and a lifelong commitment to a healthy active lifestyle,” Mr Hollingsworth said.
“We are committed to creating an environment for Australian school children where they can get involved in sport based activities before, during and after school so we are excited to be partnering with Athletics Australia, as well as many of Australia’s key participation sports, to develop the Sporting Schools programme.”
Athletics Australia President David Grace QC added that the initiative provides a great opportunity for children to learn the fundamental movements required in athletics and foster an interest in the sport that could become long term participation.
“Cairns will be the home of athletics this week and Athletics Australia is proud to be working alongside the Oceania Athletics Association on a number of great events to celebrate our sport in the region,” Mr Grace said.
“Our involvement begins today with the launch of the IAAF Kids Athletics Sporting Schools programme. This initiative offers students in primary schools across Australia access to sport based activities before, during or after school and we are proud to be one of the sports available in the pilot phase.
“It could introduce the track and field behaviours of running, jumping and throwing to more than 850,000 Australian school children, providing a vital opportunity for us to introduce our great sport to so many.”
Sporting Schools pilot programmes involving 12 sports will continue to be rolled out until the end of next month, with the programme to include more than 30 sports in total from July 2015.
IAAF Nestlé Healthy Active Kids’ Athletics will be made available to all schools as part of the Sporting Schools programme once the current pilot is completed at the end of June.
More information on Sporting Schools, including how to register and apply for funding, can be found at www.sportingschools.gov.au