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Local kids' fitness improves with donation from Capital Region Farmers Market

2 August 2008

The Capital Region Farmers Market and its founder, the Rotary Club of Hall, recently donated $8,760 to the SmartStart for Kids! Program founded by former Olympian Robert de Castella. This donation helped to promote better health and fitness for the students of Narrabundah Primary School.

Capital Region Farmers Market chairman Roger Powell, SmartStart founder Robert de Castella as well as Narrabundah Primary School principal will be joining Market stallholders and visitors on Saturday, 2 August from 10 am at Exhibition Park (EPIC) in Canberra.

Robert de Castella will be discussing the results obtained from the program undertaken with Narrabundah Primary School. SmartStart will also offer fun fitness activities and games for children and some fitness assessments and tips for parents and the whole family.

SmartStart for Kids! is a not-for-profit program that measures and reports on the health and fitness characteristics of children.

"We are really proud to be supporting such a great local initiative. One of the Farmers Market's aims is to offer the local community fresh produce for a better diet, which ties in perfectly with SmartStart's mission to improve these students' health and fitness," Farmers Market chairman Roger Powell said.

All funds generated from the Farmers Market, which constitutes of approximately $150,000 every year, are fed back into the Canberra regional community and other international charities through projects chosen by the Rotary Club of Hall.

Robert de Castella said the Farmers Market donation served to provide all the children at Narrabundah Primary School with the opportunity to be part of the Healthy Exercise and Living Program (HELP) which ran through May and June.

"During our first session, we did health and fitness checks with all the students in the school. We identified children at risk, health wise, and provided feedback to parents and teachers. We had some discipline issues at first, but students quickly understood that what we were going to do with them was actually going to be fun," Robert de Castella said.

"Through this project, all the children at the Narrabundah Primary School were supplied with pedometers, specially designed physical activity and nutrition diaries. Two or three times a week, they participated in a whole range of fun, active and intense play sessions for about one and a half hour. They loved getting involved!

"The sessions were designed to improve their health, stimulate their fitness competencies as well as increase their confidence, self-esteem and understanding about living a healthy active life. At the end of the seven-week program, we conducted another set of checks to show them how their fitness level had improved.

"Throughout the program, boys from Narrabundah Primary School have demonstrated an increase in cardiovascular fitness, power & coordination as well as muscular endurance, while girls have shown an increase in flexibility, power & coordination as well as muscular endurance," Robert de Castella added.

The SmartStart for Kids! Program is designed to profile risk, monitor changes in health, promote good health behaviours and practices and encourage appropriate self-responsibility in children, their parents and schools so as to improve health and fitness.

Since its foundation in 1999, SmartStart has conducted its program with about 40,000 students in over 70 schools in the ACT, NSW, QLD and SA.

With Capital Region Farmers Market revenue, the Rotary Club of Hall has been able to support various local organisations such as the Greenhill Youth Centre, a Community Pipe Band, SouthCare, the Paediatrics group at the Canberra Hospital (PaTCH) which makes patchwork quilts for kids in hospital and many more community organisations. Market funds have even been able to refurbish books for a primary school in Vanuatu.

The Capital Region Farmers Market is a genuine farmers market with over 100 stalls offering a diverse range of fresh food and agricultural produce straight from the producer to the customer. It is open every Saturday morning at the Exhibition Park (EPIC) in Canberra from 8 am to 11 am.

For more information on Capital Regional Farmers Market, visit

Photo shows Rob De Castella, Daniel Zobel, Principal of Narrabundah Primary School and Clive Badelow, President, Rotary Club of Hall at the presentation today at the Capital Region Farmers Market.

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