Local students get parents moving

June 22, 2012

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Murdoch University students are encouraging parents in Gosnells and Armadale to get fit and healthy as part of The Community Development Foundation (CDF)’s Eat Better, Play Harder, Live Longer program.

Better known as Eat.Play.Live, the pilot program aims to help parents make healthy lifestyle choices for themselves and their children, focussing on nutrition, physical activity and reducing the risk factors of chronic disease.

According to Alixe Luckins, a third-year Murdoch Exercise Physiology student and Gosnells resident, participating mums and dads are rewarded for getting into shape.

“The program comes with a booklet that encourages parents to be involved in a range of activities. Parents earn Passport Points every time they do an activity at the school. These can then be redeemed for things like school excursions and uniforms,” Ms Luckins said.

“The more parents get involved, the better it is for the kids and the community.”

Community is a motivating factor for Ms Luckins, who is leading the fitness program at Wirrabirra Primary School with fellow student Nic Wroe. She also sees the classes as important for her career.

“My course is focussed on promoting and delivering exercise to people from a range of backgrounds and ages, so this gives me practical experience and helps me find the best ways of communicating the importance of a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

The long-time gymnastics coach and qualified judge is excited to be expanding the program to years five and six classes in late July.

Eat.Play.Live classes are also running at Armadale’s Neerigen Brook Primary, led by Murdoch students Chloe Brown and Marie Suckling.

“We’ve got seven or eight regulars and some drop-ins. Our regulars have responded really well to the program and look forward to coming. Most have even started doing the exercises at home,” Ms Brown said.

The Neerigen Brook fitness sessions will expand to pre-primary classes in late July. Ms Brown said the program was an ideal way to fulfil practicum hours for her degree, as Exercise Physiology students are required to do 500 hours of practical training.

Dr Tim Fairchild, Academic Chair of Exercise Physiology, is enthusiastic.

“With around six out of 10 Australian adults not meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity, these types of programs are vital for improving the general health of community members,” he said.

“Obtaining sufficient physical activity can often be difficult for parents. Scheduling the exercise sessions at the school is therefore aimed at this population with the hope of then transferring this ‘healthy lifestyle choice’ to their family.”

CDF Project Manager Jen Day sees the opportunity for students to work with communities before graduating as invaluable.

“Students learn how to deliver healthy activities to participants from all population groups across a broad range of community settings. Alixe, Nic, Chloe and Marie have been an integral part of the Eat.Play.Live program, and the parents look forward to seeing them every week.”

Eat.Play.Live is supported by the Heart Foundation’s Swap It Campaign and the Department of Sport and Recreation with the involvement of Murdoch University and other organisations, including the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit, Gosnells Women’s Health Service and Calico.

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