I’m the daughter of a PE teacher and a primary school principal. My Mum (the PE teacher) was an early adopter of health trends when I was at primary school in the 70’s. Think lentil burgers, celery with peanut butter and sultanas as snacks. She was always mortified when I used my once a month tuck shop allowance to order a white bread vegemite sandwich.
Mum’s healthy living may have partly been a reaction to my Dad, he was a fair bit older than Mum and was a heavy smoker. Those were the days when about 75% of staff were smokers and Mum did extra playground duty so she didn’t have to be in the smoke-filled staff room. Unfortunately Mum’s healthy family living was too late for my dad and he died when I was six from lung cancer.
Life went on and my Mum and amazing grandparents gave me an incredible childhood. Movement, activity and awareness of healthy eating were just part of life.
Fast forward to the late 90’s after finishing uni and working at the Australian Institute of Sport in the Sports Science and Medicine Department, I start my own family that now includes Nathan (22), Mia (19), Troy (17) and Kira (14). With my Mum’s guidance, my kids enjoyed the same active and healthy childhood that I did. What I didn’t really notice, until I looked up from my privilege was that not all Australian kids have that same opportunity, for a number of reasons that are complex, unfair and too big for many of us to comprehend. I became determined to do something that would help the average child to understand from an early age that there “was something in it for them” to take responsibility for making decisions about their physical and mental health, diet and lifestyle and then support them to take some small, regular steps that result in healthy habits, hopefully for life.
In researching and developing Champion Life I was alerted to a big shift in expectations on schools compared to my parent’s day as educators. Back in their day, parents were the ones primarily responsible for the physical & mental health of their kids, Australia was mostly a fit and active nation and lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes in kids was not a problem. Schools are now faced with a very different reality and teachers have enormous expectations to address and support the physical and mental health of their students.
In developing Champion Life our goal was to supplement and enhance school’s curriculums and programs and support them in delivering health and wellbeing education. A technology platform allows us to deliver our content on a large scale. In The Health Gap, the world’s preeminent health inequity expert Professor Sir Michael Marmot states,
“we need to empower young people. Help them develop the attributes that will give them control over their lives and a stake in the future”
Our goal is to ensure that Champion Life does this, one daily, positive interaction at a time.