Spring in your Step: Moreton Bay Regional Council Fitness Program

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Moreton Bay Regional Council is responsible for one of Australia’s fastest growing urban regions which includes 378,045 residents (Census 2011). The council offers a range of free or low-cost opportunities for residents to stay healthy, active and connected. With funding from the Australian Government’s Healthy Communities Initiative, the council has published Healthy and Active Moreton, a community resource featuring programs, events and general information to help Moreton Bay residents connect with their community, get active, access healthy food and enhance their mental wellbeing.

Spring in your Step is one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s physical activity and recreational programs featured in Healthy and Active Moreton. Spring in your Step offers opportunities for residents to participate in a number of free and low-cost physical activity and fitness programs across the region that are subsidised by council. The program started in 2010 to promote the use of outdoor fitness equipment after research indicated that, while gyms were people’s preferred form of exercise, costs were a barrier to participation. Since its inception, Spring in your Step has grown from a one month event to a three month event in 2013 which ran from September to November. The program offers more than 350 fitness, sporting, nutrition and gardening activities for toddlers and parents, school-aged children, people with a disability, families, adults and seniors. The activities are delivered by local service providers who benefit from council subsidies and promotions to attract participants.

Good practice

The Spring in your Step program demonstrates:

  • a partnership approach to the delivery and promotion of physical activity programs
  • the benefits of using council’s community profile to promote physical activity and support small business operators in the sport and recreation industry
  • the importance of providing low-cost activities through subsidies.

What we did

  • Asked for expressions of interest from organisations in the community which were interested in providing physical activity programs in the region.
  • Selected providers who met required standards of experience, qualifications and insurance requirements.
  • Ensured there was a diverse range of activities across the region, particularly for lower socio-economic areas.
  • Included activities suited to special needs groups in the community and actively sought out providers of activities for people with disabilities.
  • Subsidised participant fees by 40 per cent for council approved providers at a total cost of $15,000.
  • Encouraged providers to promote their services and that activities were subsidised and supported by the council.
  • Produced a booklet and online guide to program activities.
  • Distributed the booklet to residents by post, and in partnership with the Metro North Medicare Local, encouraged general practitioners to provide the booklet to those patients most in need of an increase in their physical activity.
  • Regularly promoted the program through human interest stories in the local newspaper and social media.

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What we have achieved so far

  • Expanded the program of subsidised activities from one month to three months.
  • Increased the range of activities and the number of providers.
  • By the middle of the 2013 program, more than 2500 placements had been filled.
  • Greater family cohesion by providing activities where the whole family can participate.
  • Increased business and sustainability of locally based private physical activity providers.
  • Increased support from within council for delivering physical activity programs.

What we have learnt so far

  • Working in partnership to design and promote the initiative has been crucial to the program’s success.
  • Delivering activities that already exist in suburbs provides participants with an ongoing pathway for sustainable participation.
  • Human interest stories and testimonials in the newspaper attract the biggest interest in programs.

What we are planning to do next

  • Involve more providers to increase the number of activities to meet demand from the community.
  • Expand the program to include more activities that focus on healthy eating and gardening.
  • Provide specialised programs for specific target groups (e.g. people with disabilities).
  • Extend the subsidised activities over a longer period of time.
  • Increase the level of activities available in less populated rural and regional areas of the region.

What you can do

  • Build and maintain an accurate database of physical activity providers in your local region.
  • Work with existing providers rather than duplicating programs.
  • Encourage councillors to support and promote activities in their locality.

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Council project contact:

Brendan Arthur
Healthy Communities Team Leader
Moreton Bay Regional Council
T: 07 3283 0328
Brendan.Arthur@moretonbay.qld.gov.au
 
Robert Olding
Physical Activity Officer
Moreton Bay Regional Council
T: 07 3283 0239
Robert.Olding@moretonbay.qld.gov.au