Victorian schools’ wellbeing initiatives hailed by the Achievement Program

Tuesday 22 September, 2020

Schools across Victoria are proving that students’ health and wellbeing is still a top priority while remote learning.


The Achievement Program, supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria, has uncovered a range of innovative ways students are staying active and healthy, with its state-wide competition inviting schools to share their winning ideas.


Head of the program, Tope Adepoyibi, said the responses were heartwarming.


“I was blown away by how school communities from all corners of Victoria banded together to support health and wellbeing. We saw a range of fun and creative ideas, from children and teachers in Foster busting out dance moves in a virtual flash mob, to children in Kyabram cooking up a storm for high stakes MasterChef challenges and kids in Mildura competing in backyard Olympics,” Ms Adepoyibi said.  


The competition provided an opportunity for all schools to celebrate and acknowledge their remarkable health and wellbeing efforts during this challenging time.


“We praise the efforts of all schools but give special mention to the three winning schools: Rowville Primary School for its cooking challenges, Silverton Primary School for its Physical Activity App and Cobden Technical School for its Gratitude Tree,” Ms Adepoyibi said.


At Silverton Primary School, the idea to develop a physical activity app spawned from the desire to make PE lessons accessible to everyone, of all abilities, in their school community. Silverton’s physical education teacher Mark Blundell hoped it would encourage students to get up and away from their computers.


“Our app’s intention was to encourage children to get outside and chose what type of physical activity they wanted to do in their dedicated sport time,” Mr Blundell said.


The app saw students get their heart rate up through dancing, jumping or skipping; improving their hand-eye coordination with an array of ball sports such as basketball, AFL and netball; and engaged them in exciting challenges, of note the school’s virtual cross-country race.


Gianluca, a student at Silverton Primary, rose to the occasion when it came to the challenges and enjoyed getting involved in a variety of activities.  


"The games were really enjoyable and I'm glad Mr Blundell created the app because it definitely gave me ideas on what physical activities I could do. My favourite activity is the Find My 60. It definitely gives me motivation to exercise for 60 minutes or more," Gianluca said.


The students at Rowville Primary School were tasked to plan and help prepare healthy meals for the family. For Xavier, a grade five student, he became the household resident chef and enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen with his very wise sous chef, also known as mum!


“I liked cooking healthy meals at home because I get to eat it. Cooking at home means I don’t have to share it with my classmates, so there is more for me! I made a curry for the first time with my mum and dad, that was my favourite,” Xavier said.


Jodie Wood, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden teacher, has enjoyed the personal approach online learning has provided and is glad to see families spending more time together.


“We’re having conversations about what families eat and cook at home and we’re sharing a broad range of healthy ideas and recipes with each other. For me, I have learnt a lot about children’s different exposure to food at home and their enjoyment and knowledge of food,” Ms Wood said.


At Cobden Technical School, Julie White-Richardson, the school counsellor, created the Gratitude Corner which was home to a Gratitude Tree and positive image wall in a bid to create a positive mindset among students.


“Our Gratitude Corner helped students focus on the positive aspects of their lives and thereby balanced out the stressors they carried,” Ms White-Richardson said.


The Gratitude Corner was appreciated by the whole school community with Ingrid Bellman, a student and school captain at Cobden Technical School, saying the Gratitude Corner was a fantastic way for students to express how grateful they were for even the little things, especially during such a challenging year.


“Walking past and seeing the Gratitude Tree get greener as more students expressed their gratitude was a wonderful thing to witness. I thought it was such a bright and positive way to see that everyone has something to be grateful for,” Ingrid said.


The Achievement Program encourages all schools to get involved in free health and wellbeing initiatives, with Ms Adepoyibi stating that schools don’t have to go it alone.

“When it comes to supporting health and wellbeing there is free help at hand. Programs such as ours can help schools support health and wellbeing during this time and beyond,” Ms Adepoyibi said.