The Achievement Program is helping over 20,000 little locals in Loddon Campaspe build lifelong healthy habits in an effort to curb health challenges in the region.
New data from the Healthy Heart of Victoria 2019 Active Living Census (ALC) show only 44.1% of adults living in Loddon Campaspe admit to being in good health, with 62.5% reporting to be overweight or obese and just 57.5% meeting the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines. Conducted by the Healthy Heart of Victoria initiative, the survey of over 24,500 residents provides key insights into the community’s health status.
Head of the Achievement Program, Tope Adepoyibi, says the Achievement Program is helping to address these challenges by supporting schools and early childhood services create healthier environments.
“These figures show further support is needed to promote healthy eating, physical activity and feelings of general wellbeing. By instilling healthy habits early on, it helps build the foundations for positive long-term health and wellbeing – and that’s where our program can help,” said Ms Adepoyibi.
The free Achievement Program, supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria, helps schools and early childhood services achieve best-practice milestones for health areas including healthy eating, physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, safe environments, sun protection, sexual health and wellbeing, and smoking, alcohol and other drugs.
Over 110 schools and early childhood services, educating more than 20,000 children, in Loddon Campaspe are working through the program. Healthy initiatives have seen children across the region actively engaged in school vegetable garden experiences, meditation sessions, bike education and safety programs, community fun runs, sustainability projects, education sessions on the harms of smoking, alcohol and other drugs, and much more!
In Rochester, St Joseph’s Primary School wellbeing officer, Rachel Else, said the Achievement Program is an enriching experience for the whole school community, citing that the healthy behaviours also continue at home.
“We’ve been members for several years, in that time, our focus has been on the physical activity, sun protection, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and healthy eating health areas. One initiative of note is Munchy Monday, which is where grade six students cut up fruit and vegetable platters for every class, and with children’s improved confidence and knowledge, these healthy behaviours are transcending into home life.”
“Our healthy efforts have had a widespread impact with students, staff and family members having greater awareness of the benefits of healthy eating, learning about where food comes from, and knowing the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables and the importance of choosing water over sugary drinks,” Ms Else said.
The program also has on-the-ground support from local health promoters, who are experts in promoting health and wellbeing. Liza Shaw, health promoter at CHIRP Community Health, believes the program helps achieve healthy outcomes and a positive shift in attitudes towards health and wellbeing.
“It’s wonderful to see healthy behaviours becoming the everyday norm. Active transport is continuing to increase, school fundraisers are now more health-focused, with schools holding fun runs instead of cake stalls, and community ties are stronger which improves overall awareness of the trusted resources available,” Ms Shaw said.
All schools and early childhood services are encouraged to get involved in this free Victorian Government initiative to support healthier learning environments.