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Heart Foundation announces 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge winners
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Heart Foundation announces 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge winners

Media Release - 12 January 2021

Cultural dance workshops for people with vision loss; an “exercise bingo” game for over-65s; skateboarding and scooting workshops for youth in a remote town; and a group exercise program for carers of people with Parkinson’s Disease.

These are all winning projects in the 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge, the Heart Foundation announced today. This was the third challenge run by the Heart Foundation, with 306 entries received from across Australia.

The challenge invited tertiary institutions, schools, councils and other organisations to submit innovative ideas for getting people moving. The winners will each receive a grant of $10,000 to turn their project into a reality.

Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said nearly six in ten Australian adults, three quarters of seniors, and over eight in ten children and young people are not active enough for good heart health.

“This is concerning, given physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease, which continues to be the single leading cause of death in this country. Heart disease claims an Australian life every 29 minutes,” Professor Kelly said.

“Through the Active Australia Innovation Challenge, we’re supporting community-based initiatives that will encourage Aussies to get more active and live a healthier lifestyle. A big congratulations to all the grant recipients, with whom we will be working closely to bring their projects to life.”

The 10 challenge winners are:

Organisation: Blind Sport & Recreation Victoria
Project Name: A Vision for Dance Through Music
In what is believed to be an Australian first, this organisation will host cultural dance workshops for people who are blind and vision impaired. The sessions will include an introduction to each culture – for example, Aboriginal, African and Greek – and an easy-to-follow dance lesson. The workshops will be conducted both in person and via Zoom, allowing participation by people in regional and remote areas. A Blind Sport & Recreation Victoria trainer will provide audio descriptions and guidance during the dance classes. 

Organisation: Ashfield Public School (NSW)
Project Name: Traversing Wall
Ashfield is a densely populated suburb in Sydney’s inner west. Many students at this school live in apartment complexes with limited outdoor access for physical activity, and the school itself is on a narrow strip of land between a busy road and a train line. With space at a premium, the school will use this grant to install a traversing wall along one of its buildings. This is similar to a rock-climbing wall, but instead of climbing up, children traverse along the wall at a safe height. It will improve students’ fitness, muscle strength, hand-eye-foot coordination and problem-solving skills.

Organisation: Improving and Promoting Community Health (Victoria)
Project Name: binGO MOVE
This project will target over-65s in the Wyndham LGA in south-west Melbourne. Statistics show this age group has low physical activity levels, worsened by COVID-19. The grant will be used to develop a modified game of bingo, which uses exercises as well as numbers for the gameplay. Games will be online via Zoom, allowing people to participate from the comfort of their home. Prizes will include drink bottles, pedometers and gym passes to encourage further physical activity. Between rounds, participants can connect with each other to form social bonds.

Organisation: Sunrise Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (Northern Territory)
Project Name: Brighter Communities
This organisation provides health services to nine remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The grant will be used to organise a “colour fun run” in each community. Participants will start out with a white T-shirt; along the route, they’ll be showered with water and coloured powders. The aim of the project is to bring community members of all ages together in a fun and healthy way, and to kick-start weekly walking groups. Sunrise Health staff will be present at each event to share resources and information about chronic disease prevention and heart-healthy lifestyles.

Organisation: Belgium Avenue Neighbourhood House (Victoria)
Project Name: Collingwood High-Rise Health Program
This project aims to improve the health and fitness of public-housing-estate residents in Melbourne’s Collingwood. It involves two separate initiatives. The first will provide women’s-only gym classes, allowing young Muslim women to exercise comfortably separate from men and to meet like-minded people. The second will target senior residents from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and features weekly activities such as walks, yoga and meditation. Both programs have been designed and will be delivered by local estate residents, with support from health professionals and community-development workers.

Organisation: Millennium Kids Inc (Western Australia)
Project Name: Getting Active on Country
Young people in the remote town of Coolgardie have limited access to recreational activities. This grant will fund a series of skateboarding and scooting workshops for about 30 kids aged six to 17. The workshops, by a professional skateboarder, will also teach participants how to activate the town’s skate park and run skate and scooter competitions. Empowering young people in this way will teach responsibility and build community relationships, including with police. The program will also include workshops about healthy eating, exercise and mental health.

Organisation: Summit Health (South Australia)
Project Name: Move n Care
Caring for someone with Parkinson’s Disease can be rewarding, but it is also physically demanding and carers do not always prioritise their own health and fitness. This grant will fund the creation of a group exercise program for carers in the Adelaide Hills, where there is currently no such local service available. The carers themselves will design the program, with input from a registered nurse and the coordinator of the local Parkinson’s Disease support group. Members will meet fortnightly, at a time when their loved ones are in alternative care. The grant will also cover an initial assessment by an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist, if required.

Organisation: Kaurna Plains Children’s Centre (South Australia)
Project Name: Kids Out on Country
This organisation brings together health and education services for pre-school children in Adelaide’s outer northern suburbs, with a focus on supporting Aboriginal families. In this project, families will be invited to join weekly group outings to national and conservation parks outside the urban area. Each visit will include outdoor activities with a cultural focus, along with a child-friendly bushwalk with an Aboriginal guide. The grant will fund bus transport to the parks; however, trips are also planned to locations accessible by public transport, to show how they can be reached independently.  

Organisation: Special Olympics Australia
Project Name: Inclusive Sports in Schools (Victoria)
Many schools are not equipped to provide inclusive physical activities for children with intellectual disabilities or autism. To boost participation, this organisation will provide specialised training, resources and support to staff at four Victorian primary schools. At each, there will be six coaching sessions involving both staff and students, along with an event where students can showcase their new skills to family and friends. About 160 children will benefit from the program, which also aims to link schools and families with inclusive community sport and recreational programs in their areas.

Organisation: The University of Newcastle (NSW)
Project Name: Muscle Movers: a fun physical activity program for primary-school children
Over the past 30 years, there has been a fall in children’s muscular fitness – a trend that is even more pronounced in kids from low socio-economic backgrounds. Researchers at the University of Newcastle want to develop an age-appropriate, muscle-strengthening physical activity program called Muscle Movers, which would be run by classroom teachers in primary schools. The grant will fund the development of program resources, along with a pilot study delivered in two schools located in low-income areas of Newcastle.

The Active Australia Innovation Challenge is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. The challenge will run annually for four years between 2018 and 2021.

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