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We Need to Move It, Move It

Students at Ambrose Treacy College have always had an affinity with sport and Health & Physical Education. Concerningly however, the 2016 Active Healthy Kids Australia Report Card shows a different story, in that Australia, despite having an environment and culture conducive to being active, rank amongst the worst in the world for overall physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour.

These findings are not exclusive to our younger generation. Sport Australia, formally known as the Australian Sports Commission, has released a new video titled “Move it Aus”. Alarmingly, it says that although Australians have historically been an active “bunch” we have shifted from being “a nation of participants to a nation of spectators”.

Let’s not be too hard on ourselves just yet. ATC has many wonderful, supportive parents in our community who commit to providing their sons with the opportunity to be involved in sport on the weekends. For some of our parents this extends almost year-round as our young men enjoy all the physical, social, psychological and cognitive benefits that sport offers. At the end of a long working week it is a sacrifice that many of us are happy to make. But have we shifted from being a “nation of participants to a nation of spectators?” What about the health of our parents? Physical activity and sport are NOT just for the young. As our children’s number one role model, what efforts are we making to ensure that students see that physical activity is for life.

At Ambrose Treacy College, the HPE learning area of the curriculum lays foundation knowledge and real opportunities for children to learn how to lead active and healthy lifestyles – now and in the future. It teaches students how to enhance and positively influence their own and others’ health, safety and wellbeing. Sitting almost seamlessly alongside the personal and community health strand is the movement strand. Movement is a powerful medium for learning and, through it, students can develop and practise a range of personal, social and cognitive skills to strengthen their sense of self and build and manage satisfying relationships.

An area of study in the Year 8 HPE curriculum this term investigates data on adult physical activity levels and attempt to rationalise why people may not be reaching the National Guidelines of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents and 30 minutes a day for adults. They identify barriers to physical activity stemming from biomedical, behavioural, environmental and lifestyle factors, and propose strategies to increase participation through utilising what we term “enablers”. Many students conclude that they are the main “barrier”, but also identify that they could become an “enabler” too by looking to spend family leisure time being more active with their parents…hmm…we hope to see that happen!

Let’s walk the talk and ensure that as the adults in our young men’s lives, we are modelling active lifestyles. It is common place that parents and teachers lecture students about the importance of getting off their devices and outside. But how much activity do they see the significant adults in their lives doing? Along with all the easily identifiable barriers there are several less obvious enablers, we just need to look for them.

Tim Walker
Head of Health & Physical Education