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Creating Healthy Sports Clubs in the South East

Creating Healthy Sports Clubs in the South East

The Monash Health Healthy Sports Clubs Pilot 2019 winter evaluation results are showing progress towards a positive health and wellbeing culture in the South East.

Monash Health’s Healthy Sports Clubs initiative is currently being piloted at local sports clubs in partnership with the City of Casey, City of Greater Dandenong and Cardinia Shire. The initiative is taking a place-based approach and is aiming to create a healthy and sustainable environment, culture and connections through the whole club. There are 9 different health areas for clubs to choose based on individual needs.

Sports clubs are a prime setting for health promotion as they already promote and support physical activity and are a hub in many communities, providing an opportunity to impact a large number of people. Healthy Sports Clubs builds upon the Healthy Canteens initiative Monash Health piloted in the City of Casey in 2016-2017 which focused on assessing and improving club canteen menus. Council partners recognised that sports clubs had other complex issues they needed support with, so Healthy Sports Clubs was developed to provide a whole-of-club framework to help clubs with their specific needs and ensure changes made at the clubs are embedded in policy and practice for sustainability. Healthy Sports Clubs is evidence-informed, based on best practice and guided by multiple existing frameworks, programs, initiatives and learnings, including the Achievement Program and VicHealth’s Healthy Sporting Environments. Approximately 2,060 club members have been reached over the summer and winter seasons.

The recent winter season had 8 clubs registered from 6 different sports codes. Healthy Food and Beverages was a popular health area choice, with club champions stating they “recognised this as an issue at the club or local community”. One club displayed healthy eating posters in the meeting room starting discussions with club committee members on these before convening every meeting. The same club also received training to use FoodChecker to assess the recipes of shared food plates that members would bring in for the meetings, adapting the recipes for future meetings so they were healthier.

Several clubs were assisted to create a Healthy Food and Beverage policy to further support and embed their new club practices for future seasons. New policies were placed on club websites for easy access by the club community and promoted via social media. One club surveyed their club community and found that 73% of respondents wanted to see more healthy options in the canteen.

The Healthy Sports Clubs steering committee, with representatives from the three councils, has supported the constant evaluation and development of the initiative, and all councils promoted Healthy Sports Clubs to increase club engagement in the initiative. The pilot evaluation shows that the framework is easy to understand and follow in a club environment, and when a health area has been completed, positive outcomes are noticed in the club community. Key lessons from the pilot include engaging and working with multiple members of a club and to provide hands-on support to club champions so they are better equipped to make changes at their club.

For more information on the Healthy Sports Clubs pilot and available resources, please contact the Health Promotion Practitioner at Monash Community Health.

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