More than 250 kids will get active this Friday, 11 February, at an expo in Belconnen specifically designed to get them back off the couch.
COVID-related lockdowns and disruption have seen the number of children involved in community sport fall, decreasing activity levels and social interaction at an important time in their development.
The 2022 Belconnen Sports and Recreation Expo, at Holt Oval, aims to showcase local sports clubs and community recreation groups and entice children back to the sporting field.
It’s the first time the event has been held in Belconnen.
Northside Community Services ACT program coordinator Arabella Bargmann said sport and physical activity were important for young people.
“It’s the feeling of having a group of people you can hang out with after school, and feel safe and connected to in a positive way,” Ms Bargmann said.
“There was a decrease in participation brought on by lockdowns, kids weren’t connected with people and not as active, so that’s a good reason to promote the expo now.”
Friday’s family-friendly event is managed by Northside Community Service in collaboration with Capital Region Community Services, with funding provided by an ACT Health Directorate Health Promotions Grant.
From 3 pm to 7 pm, the afternoon will be filled with performances, demonstrations, stalls, kids activities and more, with 30 Canberra sports clubs and groups participating and promoting their sports.
Kids are encouraged to explore their options, try new sports, register with local clubs and learn about the various sports and clubs available to join.
Showbags will also be handed out to the first 200 kids who attend, with organisers expecting about 800 at the event.
Ms Bargmann said the expo had run in Gungahlin for the past four to five years, and had proven successful in getting kids to sign up to sport.
However, she said parents also faced the very real struggle of actually getting their kids to sport.
“We’ve found that sometimes it was hard for kids attend regular training, so we started a program to address that at local parks within the Gungahlin region,” Ms Bargmann said.
“Sports and recreational activities can bring so much to a child at a young age when there’s so much development and potential.
“Socially and physically, learning new skills is really important and being a part of a sport really helps build up those life skills and resilience.
“The expo is about building a community.”
The event will feature traditional sports and recreational activities as well as groups like the Bollywood dancers and the Jazzy Jumpers skipping group.
Based at Amaroo School, the Jazzy Jumpers recently had 12 athletes compete in the International Jump Rope Union Virtual World Championships, winning a number of medals.
Belinda Winstanley, committee member and parent of two Jazzy Jumpers, said the club began in 2010 and offered recreational classes, adult classes and competitive squads from ages five and up.
“We will be having a stall where you can come along, pick up a rope and try a few jumps with some Jazzy Jumpers on hand to show you how to master a trick or two,” she said.
“Having a sport for kids is more than just the physical process of participating. It provides mental clarity and social skills, so it’s important to have movement as part of the bigger life balance and skipping is perfect for this.”