Girls move to address physical activity and health and wellbeing

High school students across a number of schools in the ACT have been problem solving throughout the year to find clever and engaging ways to get girls more active as part of this year’s Girls: It’s Your Move program.

From designing new changerooms for girls, hosting all-girls activity groups and a Sisterhood club are some of the innovative ideas emerging from ACT schools addressing the low uptake in physical activity by girls.

High school students across a number of schools in the ACT have been problem solving throughout the year to find clever and engaging ways to get girls more active as part of this year’s Girls: It’s Your Move program.

More than 75 female students from three schools pitched their solutions at a Festival of Great Ideas event, as part of this population health program.

Judges put the students to the test with questions about the design and innovative thinking behind their concepts and to give each school valuable feedback on their ideas at this year’s Girls: It’s Your Move program.

Telopea Park, Amaroo and Caroline Chisholm Schools will receive $1500 towards their ideas which included:

  • From Telopea Park School – they identified that many female students were not getting changed into PE uniforms due to the school changerooms and thereby not participating fully in PE classes. They’re renovating their school change rooms with the students involved in designing the space, including choosing colours and layout;
  • From Amaroo School – hosting an all-girls activity group held during school time that incorporates the use of technology to increase participation among students who may not normally be physically active. Participants also get healthy snacks when taking part to encouraging healthy eating; and
  • From Caroline Chisholm School – they’re program called ‘Sisterhood’ is a safe, positive and inclusive environment for girls to get physically active and will include a nutritionist, Crossfit and Yoga classes and a Mental Health Mentor session.

Sophie Butler and Tahlia Hannemann from Amaroo School pictured with MLA Bec Cody,  say they have “loved” the program and they’re thrilled that they have been able to get 40 out of 60 minutes in a day into a girl’s routine.

“We wanted to appeal to the nine out of ten girls at school not getting enough physical activity,” Sophie said.

“We did this by making physical activity accessible which included parachutes, obstacle courses and tug-of-war ropes plus we included technology (which was really popular),” she said.

Tahlia said the difference their program has made is that it provides a safe place for the girls to get active.

“They find the activities fun and enjoyable and they don’t get judged. We’re really trying to break down that stereotype so that everyone at school thinks physical activity is for everyone,” Tahlia said.

During the Festival the students got to sample a range of sporting activities hosted by a number of physical activity providers including, netball, tennis, AFL, yoga, dance, bootcamp, and hockey.

Identifying the problem has been the first step in this population health program which was highlighted by the Chief Health Officer’s 2016 report, which showed that only 12 percent of high school students were meeting Australia’s physical activity guidelines and that it’s boys more than girls who have been meeting those targets.

In addition, the Report also showed that 74% of high school students have been exceeding screen time during any one week.

Ms Bec Cody MLA, Member for Murrumbidgee who represented the Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith as a judge at the event, said programs such as these were a great way to get students engaged in bigger thinking and solutions engineering for problems that can affect people beyond their own school.

“This event is about empowering students,” Ms Cody said.

“Body image is a real issue for young people, in particular for young girls, and it can be a real barrier for participation in physical activity.

“We need to understand these issues that affect their self-identity and confidence and empower the students themselves to come up with the ideas and solutions to get them more physically active.

“Another benefit of this program is that other schools in the ACT will also gain from the ideas presented by the students today. Equally, all schools participating in the program will eventually exchange their ideas so that all girls will benefit from the innovative thinking that’s been applied to this population health problem,” Ms Cody said.

“What’s also a bonus with the Girls: It’s Your Move program is that it also teaches students how to tackle problems as team, which is fantastic preparation for later in life when they enter the workforce or research teams in their chosen field of career or study,” Ms Cody MLA said.

Throughout the year the students have been working with the Entrepreneurs: It’s Your Move curriculum to work the problem, using up to $3,000 in seed funding for their projects.

Girls its your move event
Sophie Butler, Bec Cody MLA and Tahlia Hannemann at Girls It’s Your Move, Festival of Ideas.
Page last updated on: 11 Nov 2019