Over two months, the kids from Carlton Primary School are in for a treat as they participate in the ‘Heart of Carlton’ project run by Melbourne Heart Football Club and Sports Without Borders (SWB).
SWB is a not-for-profit organisation based in Carlton. They support young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to engage in sport as a vehicle for social inclusion and community integration. This project came about after evidence that the local refugee and migrant population’s participation in sport was low due to reasons such as venue location, gender and culture-appropriate facilities and cost. SWB decided to try and dissolve these barriers for the kids from the local community and with the support of Melbourne Heart and Carlton Primary School created ‘Heart of Carlton’.
The kids partake in weekly soccer clinics on their school oval with professional coaches from Melbourne Heart, including former FC player Kamahl Ibrahim and Women’s League player Louisa Bisby, with additional support from Sports Education and Development Australia (SEDA) students. The clinics are followed by healthy eating and wellbeing workshops facilitated by University of Melbourne Student Ambassador Leadership Program student volunteers. Susan Crow from Melbourne Heart says of the program, “Melbourne Heart is proud to support the project and to provide outstanding role models for the children, in addition to a fun, educational football experience.”
Through ‘Heart of Carlton’ the Carlton Primary students are able to participate in physical exercise in a safe, appropriate, familiar venue and learn about fitness, health and wellbeing. They also have the opportunity to engage with young members of the Carlton community they would otherwise have no contact with. The project is a delight as well as a steep learning curve for the university student volunteers involved; “It’s very hard work,” says volunteer Sue-Ann Lim, “but watching them grow and learn each week is really fulfilling.” Researchers from the University of Melbourne are also involved, contributing to the development of a report on the impact of sport on physical and social wellbeing, which will be used to develop more projects in the future.
Rebecca Harris, community engagement officer at Carlton Primary, says the kids are loving the project, “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.”
SWB are extremely grateful to all involved for being so supportive of the project and are adamant that this will be only the first in a series of similar programs run in the local community.