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Joint Cats and GMHBA program recognised

Healthy Heroes, a community program presented by the Geelong Cats and GMHBA focussed on youth health, nutrition and physical education has been recognised for its excellence, being highly commended for promoting healthy eating at the 2017 Vic Health awards.

Healthy Heroes is a school-based program that encourages positive behaviour change by increasing students’ knowledge around physical activity, healthy eating, hydration and screen time. Involving the Geelong Cats AFL players, together with interactive, engaging and practical activities, gives students a learning experience that is both memorable and educational. Experts from Deakin University were influential in developing program logic and evaluation.

The program provided healthy eating education to year three and four students in Geelong and surrounding suburbs, with the aim of increasing the number of children who were able to identify the recommended amount of vegetables, fruit and water they should consume each day.

“The club and GMHBA recognised that childhood obesity is a serious health issue-affecting a quarter of all children in Australia,” Geelong general manager of community Sarah Albon said. 

“It is continuing to develop in children due to three main risk factors: sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity.  Healthy Heroes is an educational program that encourages and inspires students to take positive action to protect and enhance their own health, wellbeing and physical activity participation.”

GMHBA General Manager Health Services, Sarah Leach said the program had resulted in positive change among students. .

“We love seeing positive changes in students’ participating in the program! The recognition we received as a highly commended VicHealth award recipient is testament to that. Healthy Heroes is a living example of our shared commitment to health and wellbeing.  We are proud to work with the Geelong Cats to deliver Healthy Heroes and look forward to what we can achieve together in 2018!” Sarah Leach, General Manager Health Services, GMHBA. 

The program touched over four thousand children in the Geelong region last year and will continue to grow to reach around seven thousand children in 2018. The program is run as an incursion and features male and female Geelong players.  It equips the kids with the skills and knowledge they need to improve their physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, water consumption, screen time and sleep habits. 

Students are introduced to the guidelines and educated on the impact that not meeting the guidelines could have on their health and wellbeing. Students are then provided with an opportunity to examine their current behaviours and think of ways they can improve their health and wellbeing in the five key areas: physical activity, healthy eating, hydration, screen time and sleep.


Testimonials from students

“That we got to see Geelong Cats players and that they told us what to eat and how to be healthy.”

Year 3/4 Student – St Roberts Primary School


“I learned how much food and water you need to have and how much screen time and how much time you need to do sport.”

Year 3/4 Student – Fyans Park Primary School


“I liked how there was videos it was very well prepared and the players were very kind and had good answer's for all of the question Thank you for coming CATS”- Nazareth P.S


“I liked the games and Andrew Mackie and the dancing. It made my Endorphins happy and the lunch box game made me pack a very healthy lunch. I liked the videos from the other players as they were fantastic!!!!”- Lara Lake P.S


I learnt that what foods are healthy to eat and what is a sometimes foods”- Drysdale P.S

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs