An Australian Government program to keep students active has reached a significant milestone having now provided more than 10 million opportunities for school children across Australia to participate in sport.
Sport Australia’s Sporting Schools program helps schools increase children’s participation in sport by providing free programs to children.
Since its launch in 2015, more than 8,000 schools have received funding through the program, with more than 520,000 program participants each term.
The program has been life changing for students at Adelaide East Education Centre, who have sampled eight sports including table tennis, cricket and touch football since 2019.
“Our students are mostly on the Autism spectrum and have learning and social interaction difficulties, so they may find it hard to join in as a team member,” teacher Jenny Bonnett said.
“Many have not been exposed to a lot of different sports, so this program gives them the social experiences missing in their lives.
“Every coach that has come to the school has developed a fantastic rapport with the students, resulting in enjoyment, active participation and amazing results.”
Jenny added that along with the coaching, the school has been able to purchase equipment to continue offering the sports to students.
Students at St Joseph’s School in Western Australia are also enjoying the opportunity to get active thanks to Sporting Schools, trying badminton, tennis and volleyball.
Teacher Olivia Sturtridge said the school’s 150 students attended a weekly lesson over five weeks where they learnt the rules and skills of each game.
Students could then access the equipment to continue to develop their skills at break times.
“The feedback from our students has been fantastic [and] many of them have expressed an interest in joining a local sporting club,” she added.
St Joseph’s also supports year 5 and 6 students to get involved in club sport through the Eastern Goldfields Combined School Sports Association Red Ball competition.
“Our students learn tennis during school hours and then each year in term 4 they are given an opportunity to head to the local tennis club to compete in the Red Ball competition.
“We’ve noticed our students are more focused, they’re better able to problem solve and we’ve seen a huge improvement in their fundamental movement skills. We honestly wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without Sporting Schools.”
Sporting Schools partners with 37 national sporting organisations to provide free and fun sporting opportunities for children before, during and after school. It gives millions of Australian children the opportunity to participate in sport and experience the physical, social and physiological benefits that sport offers.
“One positive connection with Sporting Schools can make a lifetime of difference and give children the motivation to be active at school and throughout their life,” Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton said.
“We hope that through the Sporting Schools Program, children find a sport they love, and we’d then encourage them to use our Find a Club resource which can connect them with a local club to continue their sporting journey.”