Greater Bendigo commits to healthy rewards for junior sport

In a Victorian first, the City of Greater Bendigo is doing its part to provide kids with healthier alternatives to fast-food and takeaway vouchers by supporting the new Healthy Sports Rewards initiative from VicHealth.

The initiative will see junior sports clubs in Greater Bendigo join Frankston, Yarra Ranges, Shepparton and Nillumbik in replacing current junk food offerings with healthy activities such as free passes to Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre, Peter Krenz Leisure Centre and free court hire for the Bendigo Tennis Centre.

Matt Kerlin from the City of Greater Bendigo’s Active and Healthy Lifestyles team said the City is pleased to be involved in the initiative and eager for kids to have access to healthier rewards in sport.

“The Healthy Sports Rewards initiative is a positive way for local sports clubs to award young players with healthy award options instead of junk food,” Mr Kerlin said.

“It is important for fast-food and takeaway vouchers to be replaced with healthy alternatives to ensure children continue to reap the rewards of their participation in junior sport.”

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said we must stamp out unhealthy vouchers to put the health and wellbeing of Victorian children above junk food companies’ profits.

“Rewarding children with vouchers for fast-food during sport builds powerful brand associations at a young age and contributes to poor health, now and into adulthood,” Dr Demaio said.

“Families are telling us they want healthier rewards for their children. We’re excited to partner with local Victorian councils to work towards making healthy and fun rewards the norm in junior sport.”

The Healthy Sports Reward initiative comes off the back of new VicHealth and Deakin University research[i] which shows 2 in 3 parents think kids’ sports rewards should be healthy. Among the 500 Victorian parents surveyed, half (51%) said their children had received a voucher from a large fast-food company at their sports club, and 42% had received one for a local fast-food outlet.

The VicHealth and Deakin University survey of parents also found:

  • Half of all parents surveyed had a child who had received an unhealthy food voucher in sport.
  • Among those who received a voucher:
  • Half of the parents would prefer their children did not receive a voucher
  • 40% reported the voucher use prompted a first-time visit to the fast-food/takeaway business
  • 65% of families ended up spending more than the voucher amount when redeeming it
  • In 38% of cases, the voucher was used by the child, 34% by the family, and only 19% were not used at all.

About Healthy Sports Rewards:

VicHealth is committed to sporting clubs being places that are active, healthy and socially connected. The Healthy Sports Rewards project is just one part of this. To get involved:

  • Parents: Become an active part of Parents’ Voice, an online movement of parents who are interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian children: Join here  
  • Sports clubs: contact your local council about how they can support your club to shift to healthier rewards. 

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