Active on health and fitness

Forget what you remember about PE. One Cessnock school has taken a completely innovative approach to the health of its students and staff, and paving the way for others to follow.

COMBATING ISSUES: St Philip's Christian College Cessnock principal Darren Cox inspects the new facilities with students at last Friday's official opening.

COMBATING ISSUES: St Philip's Christian College Cessnock principal Darren Cox inspects the new facilities with students at last Friday's official opening.

St Philip's Christian College Cessnock has added a sports centre to the school, and health and fitness is now well and truly part of the syllabus.

ENERGISED: Flow-on effects of staying fit and healthy include improved sleep, improved concentration and generally having more energy to get through your day.

ENERGISED: Flow-on effects of staying fit and healthy include improved sleep, improved concentration and generally having more energy to get through your day.

The multi-million dollar centre boasts an international-standard basketball court, plus a state of the art gym with cardio and weights equipment, teaching spaces and changerooms.

North Construction completed the build, with the gym first opening for students in late 2018.

We are determined to change the narrative of young people's health and fitness levels.

St Philip's Christian College principal Darren Cox

School principal Darren Cox said they were inspired to add the sports facilities to help combat obesity rates and an increase in the prevalence of mental illness around the country.

"Fitness should be about establishing lifelong healthy habits rather than a dot point in a curriculum document,"  Mr Cox said. "We are determined to change the narrative of young people's health and fitness levels."

St Philip's engaged Synergy Fitness to work with the students in the gym, and all students in years 5-10 will attend three gym sessions each week as part of their studies, on top of their PE sessions.

At each session, students complete their own personalised program, with guidance by qualified instructors.

"Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a javelin might not be engaging for all students but they do want to be fit and healthy. The students understand these lessons are about life and not a grade on a report card," Mr Cox said.

"They are able to set their own fitness goals and are supported in achieving these by the instructors. All schools make choices in regards to their extra curricular activities and programs they offer throughout the school and we have focused ours on fitness".

Staff are able to use the gym outside school hours and on weekends, promoting the school as a workplace of choice.

Mr Cox said the gym's positive effect on both the students and staff is unmistakable.

"I have been inundated with feedback from students, their families and the staff about how much better they feel physically and the flow on effects," Mr Cox said.