Heart of Carlton

“Heart of Carlton” brings the thrill of Melbourne Heart, the energy of playing soccer, and education on healthy living to Carlton Primary School and it’s students. The project aims to increase the level of physical activity among children with decreased opportunities for this, promote healthy lifestyle and fair play messages and provide links to other sporting opportunities.

The project consists of a series of afterschool soccer clinics, followed by conversations over fruit and water around different topics including, exercising properly, eating well for school, having enough energy (sleep), team responsibility and others. Carlton Primary School, a school of about 95 students, many of whom are from a refugee background, specifically from the Horn of Africa are excited about the opportunity. “The students here are a bit soccer mad, it is their favourite sport. This is a great opportunity to build their skills, to get some really important health messages across in an engaging way, and to keep the kids physically active after school,” said Rebecca Harris from Carlton Primary School.

The clinics will be held on the school oval and promoted to the students.  Athalia Zwartz, Sports Without Borders Executive Officer is excited about the prospect of sport playing an important part in shaping young people’s lives.

“‘Heart of Carlton’ is a terrific project that really uses the full potential of sport; getting children active in a code they passionate about, giving them access to professional coaches, providing education around healthy lifestyle, and focusing on the values within sport and team environments, respect, fair play, listening, supporting each other.” said Athalia.

Staff from Carlton Primary School are also conducting an evaluation that has been prepared and will be analysed by the University of Melbourne, Graduate School of Education.

As a project partner, Melbourne University researchers will contribute to the development of a body of knowledge around the impact of sport and physical activity on social, and physical wellbeing, which will support work already being done by the local community to address identified needs.

“The Heart of Carlton is a wonderful program as it brings together so many elements of the Carlton community in such a positive way. Our evaluation of the program will help to inform future similar initiatives. Important in this process will be hearing the voices of the children involved around the issues of physical activity, healthy lifestyles, fair play, and community.” John Quay, Melbourne University Graduate school of Education.

“We’re really happy to have the University of Melbourne providing academic evaluation into an area that we intuitively understand, but don’t empirically measure enough. The project also connects student volunteers from the University with the local children, building relationships across the Carlton community. “ said Athalia Zwartz.

Community relationships and projects are important to the university’s staff, many of whom have longstanding community links. Each year the Vice-Chancellor’s Engagement Awards recognise the engagement and partnership work of staff, students and partner organisations. Proudly, the Heart of Carlton project received a Staff Engagement Project Grant as part of the 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Engagement Awards.

Student volunteers from the University’s SALP program (Student Ambassador Leadership program) will be assisting Melbourne Heart. W (Women’s) League player of the Year, Louisa Bisby and former Melbourne Heart player Kamal Ibrahim in coaching the children, and SEDA (Sports Education and Development Australia) will also assist in the clinics.

“We are excited about the Heart of Carlton program. It is a way of providing children, who have limited opportunities to be physically active, a chance to have some fun and learn new skills. We hope they will be inspired by our elite coaches Louisa Bisby and Kamal Ibrahim and go on to join local football clubs.” Sue Crow, GM Community, Melbourne Heart FC, said.

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