Early Years Award: Coaching Koorie Kids

The healthy habits learnt at kindergarten are helping Koorie kids become the teachers in their families and communities thanks to an award winning and expanding coaching program.

The Coach Program is creating the next generation of Aboriginal health ambassadors.

After receiving the Minister’s Award at last year’s Victorian Early Years Awards, the program has expanded: three new Coaches have been recruited and resources developed to further promote the program.

‘It’s been great to invest in local, on-the-ground, young Aboriginal people to deliver the program, engaging with local kids in the early years of their life,’ said Health Promotion Unit Manager, Laura Thompson. 

Created by the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service’s Healthy Lifestyle Team, the program links Coaches from the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service with Yappera Children’s Services in Thornbury and Bubup Wilam for Early Learning in Thomastown.

The Coaches deliver fun, weekly 30-minute lessons that promote the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, drinking water and staying smoke free.

Laura said the program is also having an impact on parents, with children challenging them to see health in new light.

‘These kids are coming home and talking about what their Coach is teaching them, which is helping to change the habits of their parents,’ Laura said.

‘We’re hoping to expand the coach setting across all early years services, and this award has helped to kick-start the process.’

Nominations for the 2017 Victorian Early Years Awards are now open, with categories of Improving Access and Participation in Early Learning; Supporting Parents to Build Their Capacity and Confidence; Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships; Promoting Children’s Health and Wellbeing; and Early Childhood Teacher of the Year.

Winners receive between $10,000 and $15,000 to further develop and share the learnings of their program and support their professional development goals.

Laura encouraged early years services and professionals to take the time to apply.

‘You can get so caught up in the programs you’re running, and working with communities, that you don’t stop to reflect and think about writing applications or receiving recognition for all the great work you’re doing,’ Laura said.

‘Receiving this award has not only been a win for the Coach Program, but it also feels like we’ve had a win for Aboriginal organisations.’

Nominations close May 15, with the winners announced at a ceremony at the National Gallery of Victoria in October.

To make a nomination or for more information, see: Victorian Early Years Awards