Premier's Sporting Challenge
The NSW Premier's Sporting Challenge marked its 10th anniversary this week having clocked up 19,265 years of physical activity by its 2.4 million student participants across the decade.
In its first year in 2008 the Premier's Sporting Challenge was completed by about 74,000 students from 404 schools.
The program's popularity has grown exponentially and this year more than 1500 schools, 350,000 students and 10,000 teachers will take part in the annual exercise challenge.
The Premier's Sporting Challenge was established in 2008 to promote the importance of daily physical activity, not just for fitness but overall health and wellbeing. Students at participating schools record their daily activity during a 10-week period during terms 2 and 3.
Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend children and young people undertake at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
Students who reach that target in the Premier's Sporting Challenge receive a Gold Award which is the most common achievement of most participants.
Research shows the benefits of exercise are about more than being fit. Exercise has been shown to improve students' ability to focus and concentrate and lift their general mood. It also provides a chance for students to make friends, learn about teamwork and to build resilience.
The program's 10th anniversary was marked at a gala event at Sydney's Olympic Park on Wednesday, May 24, with the Secretary of the Department of Education, Mark Scott, and a group of elite athletes and Olympians who are public education alumni and now volunteer as Premier's Sporting Challenge Ambassadors.
Students and representatives from 10 of the 149 schools who have been involved with the sporting challenge since its inception were present at the ceremony.
Among the original participating schools is Molong Central School, a school of 480 primary and high school students in the town of Molong, halfway between Parkes and Bathurst.
School principal Michelle Barrett said the Premier's Sporting Challenge was a highlight of the school's calendar.
"In regional schools we are always looking for opportunities to grow strong leaders and we see the sporting challenge as a chance for our older students to take on a leadership role with our primary-aged children," Mrs Barrett said.
She said it also helped inspire older students to take on coaching and mentoring roles within community sports organisations.