Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 14 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 4519..
MS MacDONALD: My question is directed to the Minister For Sport and Recreation. Minister, yesterday you helped celebrate the first birthday of the government initiative, kids-at-play. Could you inform the assembly of the success of this program over the past year?
MR QUINLAN: The government committed to establish kids-at-play just over a year ago in October 2004-just before the election-and started establishing it immediately. The program is designed in response to concerns about the decreasing level of children's physical activity and the impact it has on their health status, including levels of obesity.
The program focuses on play rather than sport to engage kids who might not consider themselves-or be considered as-sporty and who are not necessarily comfortable playing sport, but who nevertheless have fun with physical activity. The program aims to provide physical activity for children up to the age of 12 years in a non-structured environment and to encourage children and family interaction through play.
Kids-at-play is delivered to the community initially through two specifically designed and equipped vans that travel to after-school and school holiday programs, and community events, where trained casual staff help children actively play various games and activities. Services include the arrival of a kids-at-play van fully equipped with a range of sporting and play equipment accompanied by three trained staff members to facilitate activity. The trained staff members are generally university students from the University of Canberra. Their participation in this program is part of their university development.
Operation of the program was initially aimed at terms one and four in schools to take advantage of the warmer weather. However, the program's appeal and the demand for the service and the kids-at-play vans have meant that we have extended it through the winter months. In terms of participation, in holiday care programs, nearly 3,000 kids have been through 80 sessions; through after-school care centres nearly 6,000 kids have been through about 350 sessions; in community activities, nearly 9,000 kids have been through about 100 sessions; and, overall, in 12 months, 17,000-plus kids have been exposed to the activities of kids-at-play.
In the first year there was significant interest from the early childhood sector. Pilot activity was undertaken in that area as well. Through these activities it was evident that the equipment in the current vehicles was mostly a bit too large and cumbersome for the smaller kids. So the program grows. Yesterday-a year into the program-it doubled in size, with the launch of two additional vans. One of these will specifically target pre-school kids, with specialised equipment for these younger children to assist in the exploration of play and to develop motor skills.
All kids-at-play vans will be operational from 28 November-next week-and already the bookings for 2006 are rolling in. I congratulate my department for the work they have done on this. We have an actively ageing program for older people. We came to the electorate in 2001 saying we wanted mass participation in sport; we wanted people across the community to participate in sport.