The students of Carlton Primary School are treated to an after school program once a week to learn how to keep healthy and get along with the community through playing sports.
Louise Larcombe was studying a Masters in Public Health at the University of Melbourne when she started looking for a way to help out the local community. She decided to join the Heart of Carlton program run by Sports Without Borders in 2014 and is now in her third year of volunteering for the program. The program is designed to get school kids to connect with their local community through sport. “They spend a lot of time together and build that kind of teamwork and confidence which also helps out in the classroom,” said Larcombe.
Each week addresses a different theme for the children to learn about and discuss such as healthy eating and drinking, good sportsmanship, and teamwork. Larcombe said it can be quite a challenge because “a classroom full of five year olds can be pretty wild when it’s after school, and they want to go play soccer, and you’re trying to talk to them.” The universal popularity of soccer meant that initially it was the only sport on offer. But last year Cricket Victoria, Netball Victoria, Athletics Victoria and various mindfulness activities were also introduced to the program.
Larcombe found it easy to get involved because sports naturally appeals to her and she wanted to understand first-hand the effects that sports has on a community. She completed a research project about the benefits of inclusivity in sport in terms of disability participation in the Pacific region. “Sports is a cool platform for improving health. You get the physical activity and it brings people together. It’s a good platform for health messaging,” she said.
Larcombe believes Sports Without Borders’ Heart of Carlton program is a great stepping stone for people to work with diverse communities. “In my field of public health the whole point is to benefit disadvantaged communities,” she said. Understanding the issues that are faced by Carlton’s newly arrived communities has contributed to her learning. Sports Without Borders has a good support network in place, where teachers are involved from the get-go and parents often lend their support as well. The program would not be possible without support from the R.E. Ross Trust and the Telco Together Foundation, helping primary school kids learn through sport.
Photo by Tina Thorburn