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VicHealth initiative to help sporting organisations engage with teenagers

VicHealth initiative to help sporting organisations engage with teenagers
July 27, 2018

VicHealth’s new $6 million Growing Participation in Sport program is looking to find new ways for teenagers to be active and healthy.

The initiative comes in the wake of a new VicHealth report that found teenagers were almost five times more likely to be on their smartphone than being active.

Additionally the report found 92% of teenagers aren’t meeting the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines of an hour of physical activity every day. In contrast, the average teenager is spending more than three hours a day on screens like smartphones and ipads.

VicHealth will partner with 19 sports, including AFL, touch football, and skateboarding, to try to turn this around by making sport more fun and attractive to teenagers.

New activities to tempt teens away from their screens include a seven-week festival combining food trucks and touch football and a rollerskating program targeting teenage girls.

Advising that the health benefits for teenagers from being regularly active couldn’t be underestimated, Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy stated “regular physical activity and playing sport can provide many benefits for our physical and mental health. This program is about making sport attractive and interesting for teenagers so they can be happy, healthy and thrive.”

VicHealth Chief Executive Jerril Rechter said the statewide program was all about making sport accessible, fun and non-competitive to get less active teens into sport, stating “playing sport is a really fun and social way for our kids to keep active, but we know that sport participation halves when they hit their teenage years.”

“Many teenagers have told us that they stopped playing sport because it stopped being fun and started getting too competitive.

“We’re working with sports organisations to deliver programs for teens that focus more on having fun and building skills and less on winning and being the best. Additionally they combine sport with things we know teens love like food trucks, hanging out with friends and listening to music.”

Rechter said sports organisations had to try new things if they wanted to get less active teens to play sport, adding “many teenagers have told us they’re not interested in sport that’s too competitive or that takes them away from doing the things they love like hanging out with their friends.

“Some young people thrive on competition and playing to win. Yet a lot of teenagers just want sport to be fun, social and a bit of a stress relief.

“Regular physical activity is so great for teens’ physical and mental health and we need them to do more of it. If that means changing the way sport is played then we need to shake things up to benefit our kids’ health.”

The Growing Participation in Sport program aims to get close to 60,000 less active teenagers playing sport over the next three years. Activities will focus on engaging teenagers who face health inequities, those who don’t engage in regular physical activity and those that aren’t interested in participating in existing traditional sport offerings.

Teenagers and sport

• Nine out of 10 teenagers are doing less than 60 minutes of exercise each day
• Teenagers are almost five times more likely to be using a screen device than being active - teenagers 15 to 17 years spend around 40 minutes a day being active and around 180 minutes doing screen-based activities, like watching TV or using their smartphones
• Sport participation halves at around age 15
• Almost half of children under 15 play no sport at all (outside of school hours) during a typical week.

Why teens stop playing sport:

• Too much focus on winning and being skilful
• Needing too much time, financial resources or family support to play
• Having to prove themselves and try out for limited places on a sports team
• Pressure to perform on the sports field
• Competing priorities including academic performance, part-time work, social activities and screen-time.

Why teens want to play sport:

• Having fun
• Getting active and improving fitness
• Learning new skills
• Being social and making new friends
• Trying new things
• Stress relief

For more information go to

Lower image: Jerril Rechter

Related Articles

21st July 2018 - Federal Health Minister orders his department to stop paying social media influencers

30th June 2018 - Local sports clubs to benefit from VicHealth funding

22nd May 2018 - Decline in family spending on out-of-school children’s sport and physical activity in 2017

3rd March 2018 - VicHealth calls for Australia’s supermarkets to take action on obesity

14th February 2018 - New VicHealth program aims to get inactive teenagers away from their screens

1st February 2018 - VicHealth announces Active Club Grants to get more Victorians moving

1st January 2017 - Motivating people to be active and play sport

8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged

4th September 2016 - New VicHealth funding to back fun and female activity

15th July 2016 - Richmond Football Club promotes female fitness in partnership with VicHealth

7th June 2016 - VicHealth grants back grassroots sporting clubs

10th August 2015 - VicHealth commits $1.8 million to get 25,000 women active

4th August 2014 - VicHealth looks for new ideas to get more Victorians physically active

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