Active Healthy Kids Australia
The Kids in Adelaide team are very keen to provide loads of professional information to our Adelaide families about healthy living, healthy eating and healthy thinking. We have been fortunate enough to have Natasha from Active Healthy Kids Australia join us. In the blog below, Natasha introduces AHKA and tells us what it’s all about, and we have lots more information planned for the future! Make sure you stay tuned to find out some great facts and ideas on how to keep your family active and healthy.
Who are Active Healthy Kids Australia? What do we do? And why is it important?
Active Healthy Kids – this is something we as parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, teachers, coaches, neighbourhood leaders hope to see in our immediate families and within our broader communities. But unfortunately given that only one out of five, 5-17 year olds, currently meet the national physical activity guidelines (i.e. accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity everyday) this is becoming quite rare as we face an inactivity epidemic.
So why should we care if kids are meeting the physical activity guidelines or not? Children who get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day are at a lower risk of conditions including overweight and obesity and Type II diabetes and are more likely to see improvements in their aerobic fitness and bone health and experience positive mental health benefits. But, they shouldn’t just stop once they have achieved the minimum amount, the more they can do the better.
Given the state of play, Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) was established in 2013 with the aim of wanting to improve the physical activity levels of Australian kids. Active Healthy Kids Australia is a collaboration between kids physical activity and health experts from around the nation (which are listed here), and the core business of AHKA is releasing annual Physical Activity Report Cards which act as an advocacy and surveillance tool that highlights how active Aussie kids really are.
The Report Card is a vehicle that brings together the best available kids physical activity data at both the national and state level in order to assign grades (like a typical school report card) to 12 different physical activity indicators. These indicators examine how much activity kids are doing in different domains (e.g. organised sport, active transport), the settings/people kids interact with that impact the activity they do (e.g. school, community) the strategies and investments in place (local, state, national) to support kids physical activity and the traits linked with physical activity participation (e.g. fitness and movement skills).
The first AHKA Physical Activity Report Card, titled ‘Is Sport Enough?’, was released in 2014 alongside 14 other countries. The Report Card highlighted that despite being a ‘sporting nation’ Aussie kids were almost failing for physical activity, being awarded a D-, along with other developed countries such as Scotland, the United States and Canada. And so while the Report Card did show that we have the infrastructures and supports in place to encourage physical activity and as a nation we rank at the top for organised sport participation – this is not enough! The 2014 Report Card received extensive media coverage, reaching 11 million Australians and generating lots of interest amongst a number of stakeholders and so our momentum grew.
With funding support from the University of South Australia we were then able to continue with our work and release our first Progress Report Card in 2015. The Progress Report Card, titled ‘The Road Less Travelled’, focussed only on one indicator – Active Transport. Australia was graded a ‘C’ for Active Transport participation with only about half of Aussie kids using active transport at least once per week to travel to or from school. In the Progress Report we also asked the question have we set the bar too low? And should we expect kids/families to be using active transport to get to and from school as their usual mode of transport (i.e. for at least half of their trips each week)?
Looking forward to this year, AHKA will release its second full Report Card as a part of the Active Healthy Global Alliance (which was established in 2014 after the release of our first Report Card), alongside 39 other countries which will again allow us to benchmark ourselves against the rest of the world. All members of AHKA are hard at work collating all the best data from around the country to ensure we provide the most up-to-date snapshot of how we are faring as a nation and what we can be doing to improve the grade.
Active Healthy Kids Australia is looking forward to engaging with members of the ‘Kids in Adelaide’ community through future blog posts, but until then please head over to the AHKA website or connect with us via Twitter (@AHK_Aus) or Facebook (Active Healthy Kids Australia).
Before I go I want to set you all a challenge. This week sit down with your family and decide on what extra physical activity you could do in replace of something that is not active (e.g. go for a family walk instead of watching TV) – it doesn’t have to be much and it can fit in wherever possible. But who knows this one little thing might become a weekly occurrence and then the possibilities are endless. Make sure you share with Kids in Adelaide what extra bit of physical activity you and your family did and how you made it work with your family schedule.