Encouraging children to get off the couch and get moving in new and interesting ways is a common theme through many Illawarra school holiday programs.
From learning stunts like in James Bond movie chase sequence, to stilt walking and acrobatics plus old favourites like playing dodgeball and basketball are on offer for young people this January.
“It’s highly important – not just for children but for teens and adults as well – to stay connected to their body, to stay strong, to stay flexible because if you don’t use your body it deteriorates,” Circus Monoxide performer and trainer Louise Clark said.
The Fairy Meadow circus will be teaching children to fly, tumble, juggle and flip during their program running from January 8 to 25 with half days or full days available, or parents can purchase a full week at a discounted rate.
Ms Clark said while climbing up silk ropes for aerial tricks won’t be for everyone circus offers a variety of movements to suit everyone.
“It also helps them learn things in a different way. Juggling add different types of pattern movement uses both sides of your brain … so it’s really good for kids with learning disabilities,” she said.
Further north at The Burgh health club in Helensburgh, trainers are challenging youngsters aged six to 14 with stilt walking, tree climbing, circus aerials and parkour – often referred to as free running. The parkour movement is becoming more popular with global brands like Red Bull giving it much attention.
Trainer Antony Smith said it’s about moving in the quickest, most efficient way possible and safely. The full body movements can incorporate flips, twists and other tricks – though the school holiday program begins with teaching children to run correctly, vault, roll and land safely.
“It gives you such a massive sense of achievement – which is a reason a lot of kids go to video games because of the sense of achievement and it’s easy – but this is a more fulfilling way of doing that,” Mr Smith said.
The Australian Health Department estimates between 20 and 25 per cent of children and adolescents are overweight, and a quarter of this group is obese. While the Australian Health Survey 2011-12 revealed one-third of children, and one in ten young people undertook the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Other school holiday programs encouraging activity include Fun-damentals at Lindsay Park Primary School in Wollongong, offering a variety of sports and skills sessions; Outdoor Connections at Kiama Reserves and Seven Mile Beach National Park, focusing on outdoor activities for five to 14-year-olds; and Learn To Surf with Pines Surfing Academy at Killalea Beach.
While there are numerous free activities for children and parents such as bush walking, visiting different playgrounds around the region, swimming and body-surfing at patrolled beaches.