Jets and HMRI get physical at SCORES launch

Dec 8 2011

The goal of improving children’s physical activity moved a step closer to reality today when the Newcastle Jets and Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) officially launched the SCORES project at Mayfield East Public School.

The project is funded by the Jets, which earlier this year presented HMRI with a cheque for $133,248, representing $5,000 for every home goal and $2,500 for every away goal scored by the team last season, plus the proceeds from a jersey auction after David Beckham’s LA Galaxy game.

SCORES (Supporting Children’s Outcomes using Rewards, Exercise and Skills) is an innovative school-based physical activity and movement skills study that will be overseen by Associate Professor David Lubans from the University of Newcastle’s new Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition.

The program aims to evaluate and address a notable decline in physical activity and fundamental movement skills among primary school children.

Six public schools from the Hunter Region have signed up for SCORES – Booragul, Mayfield East, Stockton, Tighes Hill, Waratah and West Wallsend. It will involve around 400 students from years 3 and 4.

The program begins early next year and runs until the end of 2013. The major findings will be released in mid 2013.

“This is a wonderful initiative and we are thrilled to be involved in this program with the Hunter Medical Research Institute,” Jets CEO Robbie Middleby said.

“It is fantastic to see the money raised last season has been able to fund such a valuable program. We hope over time the SCORES program can have a positive impact on the children in the Hunter region.”

“SCORES is the culmination of our collective research into physical activity in young people and is timely considering the current performance audit on physical activity in NSW Government primary schools,” Associate Professor Lubans explained.

“The NSW School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS), released last month, showed a decline in activity and movement mastery since 2004, especially among girls. Some schools aren’t doing as much PE [physical education] and school sport as they perhaps could do, but they’re an obvious setting for interventions to promote physical activity and movement skills.”

The intervention workshops will focus on student enjoyment, developing movement competency, and increasing physical activity levels. Newcastle Jets players will be invited to participate in some of the sessions at the primary schools.

Departing HMRI Director Maree Gleeson, a long-time Newcastle Jets supporter, attended today’s launch as her last official media function, having been instrumental in establishing the sponsorship.

“This is a wonderful partnership with the Newcastle Jets,” Professor Gleeson said. “Football is a popular sport with young people and the findings will have national and potentially international significance in improving their sporting skills, health and wellbeing.

here are many synergies between football and medical research. The active lifestyle message the Jets send to the community compliments HMRI’s research into areas such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular health and mental health.

“The club has been extremely generous and SCORES will be vital in addressing physical inactivity, which is an issue in all schools but more pronounced in disadvantage communities.”

Background: Associate Professor Lubans, 37, completed his degree in Human Movement and Health Education at the University of Sydney before obtaining his Masters from the University of Oxford. He played first grade rugby union in Sydney, for the Newcastle Wildfires and the University of Oxford. Working with him on SCORES will be HMRI Newcastle Jets Post-Doctoral Fellow Deb Dewar and PhD student Kristin Weaver. They are members of the HMRI Cardiovascular Research Program.

HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.