Adjunct Professor Richard (Dick) Telford AM of the Australian National University (ANU), and the Victorian Education Minister, the Hon. Martin Dixon MP, today helped launch a renowned physical activity programme, the Bluearth Approach, in northern suburbs schools.

More than 1200 students from 11 local schools will participate in the Bluearth programme during the next three years thanks to a substantial financial contribution from Shell Geelong Refinery.

Speaking at the launch, the Hon. Martin Dixon said the government was encouraged to know Shell has developed close ties with local schools and is supporting programmes such as Bluearth.

“They say a healthy body is a healthy mind, which is why it’s important for students to learn from a young age about the benefits of looking after themselves both physically and mentally,” said Mr Dixon.

Professor Telford, Research Director of the LOOK (Lifestyles of our Kids) Project, said that research here in Australia and overseas shows that physical activity programmes such as Bluearth are important because of the intimate relationship between the developing body and mind of every child.

“Well designed physical activities programmes not only benefit the physical health of children, but can help children feel better about themselves generally and assist with learning processes in the classroom,” said Professor Telford.

Acting CEO of the Bluearth Foundation, Richard Corbet, said they were delighted to link with Shell in delivering the Bluearth Approach.

“Affiliations such as this ensure that young people in Geelong are getting active, helping prevent the effects of disease which can occur from a sedentary lifestyle,” said Richard.

“It also enables them to develop skills including teamwork, concentration, self confidence and self awareness, all of which can be taken back and applied within the classroom,” he said.

Shell Geelong Refinery General Manager, Mark Schubert, said Shell was attracted to the programme due to the clear links the Bluearth Approach has in improving education outcomes.

“The results of the Bluearth pilot programme Shell supported in two local schools were astounding, with 88% of teachers reporting Bluearth had a positive impact on students’ academic performance and 100% reporting an increase in students’ self-perception and positive behaviour,” said Mark.

“These pilot results, coupled with the preliminary findings of Professor Telford’s research, convinced us to increase our support significantly,” said Mark.

The principal of the Northern Bay P-12 College, Fred Clarke, is impressed with the sustainability of the programme, which sees professional coaches working with teachers to train and accredit them to lead Bluearth.

“One of the greatest benefits is teachers are trained to deliver Bluearth which ensures we can continue to offer the programme in our schools once Shell’s three-year support concludes,” said Fred.

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For further information please contact:

Jacey Octigan – Bluearth National Marketing Manager – Mob: 0408 200 030 or Tel: 9820-6326
Jessica Marriner – Shell Communications Advisor – Mob: 0410 655 162 or Tel: 52 738 647

Background Information

The Bluearth Foundation was established by Australian businessman and philanthropist Malcolm Freake in 2000. Concerned about the long-term effects of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, he gathered together experts in the fields of human movement, education, psychology, elite sport and health to discuss the need for physical activity and its link to well being.

The Bluearth Approach was developed to engage children in movement and instil in them a lifelong love of physical activity. The programme has engaged with more than 60,000 students during the past eight years. In 2011, the Bluearth Approach is being delivered in 236 schools across Australia.

The LOOK Project was conducted in the ACT from 2006 – 2009 to investigate the impact of physical activity provided by the Bluearth programme, comparing the outcome with more traditional physical education sessions conducted by classroom teachers. A comprehensive report is being written at the ANU, along with papers submitted to scientific, psychology and medical journals.

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