Jenna Bradwell

Students join CHI to promote healthy habits at school

Tasty recipes and fitness sessions have transformed the habits of two local schools thanks to a healthy partnership between students and UOW’s Centre for Health Initiatives (CHI).

Local schools were given the opportunity to apply for funding for a social marketing campaign to address a school-based social or health issue.

CHI’s Laura Robinson said student teams were invited to submit an application which demonstrated how their campaign would address a school-based health issue in a novel and fun way and nominated a teacher to champion the project.

As well as giving the successful teams (students from The Illawarra Grammar School and Corpus Christi) $2000 to get their projects up and running, successful teams were provided with assistance from a CHI mentor to develop their campaign.

The HEALTH (Healthy Eating Adds Life to Humans) Team from the Illawarra Grammar School conducted a campaign to address unhealthy eating within their school, with a focus on unhealthy lunches and food brought from home.

The students created recipe booklets with healthy meal ideas and hosted a healthy food tasting event at school. The team of Year 9 students Namika Parajuli,Quynh-Nhu Nguyen, Maria Kyriakoudes and Hanna Kim, was supported by teacher Mrs Jean Burton.

Team member Quynh-Nhu Nguyen explained that the group tried to devise a series of recipes that were both healthy and tasty.

“We included things that everyone likes like brownies and cupcakes and looked at easy ways to make them more nutritious such as substituting butter with apple sauce and using less sugar,” she said.

“At the tasting day, the kids at school were shocked that healthy foods could taste so good. 97% of the students we surveyed said they enjoyed the food and lots of them asked for recipes to take home.”

Maria Kyriakoudes said she discovered many unhealthy habits of her own (and most of the students) from the project.

“I realised that a lot of the food I thought was healthy really wasn’t. You have to read the labeling on ‘diet’ products and drinks very carefully because they often contain a lot of sugar,” she said.

Corpus Christi Year 12 PEHPD students including Andrew Hooper and Emily Meith, developed the Healthy Body/Healthy Mind Initiative, with the support of their teacher Ms Rachel Filan.

The aim of the project was to create a supportive and active environment for Year 12 students as they embarked on their HSC exams –encouraging exercise and healthy eating in order to reduce stress levels.

Year 12 students were offered the chance to participate in a five-week fitness program which included a range of exercise classes before school and a variety of healthy breakfasts from the canteen afterwards.

Andrew explained that Year 12 students had little time before exams to get together, exercise and socialise as a group so looked forward to the opportunity to take part.

“Everyone gave great feedback to us- the 7am starts were a bit rough some days but when the session finished we all felt fantastic and had the whole day ahead of us,” he said.

Emily said the healthy breakfast was definitely among the highlights of the activity for students and that the school would be continuing the initiative next year before the HSC.

CHI’s Director, Professor Sandra Jones, said the students’ enthusiasm and commitment to improving the health of their peers was impressive.

“It was a great way for the students to connect with UOW. The CHI team really enjoyed working with these health professionals of the future and we look forward to running the competition again in 2013,” she said,

For more information on CHI click here.


  • Corpus Christi students Emily Meith and Andrew Hooper were part of a project group that initiated an exercise program for Year 12.

  • CHI Director Professor Sandra Jones presented students from Corpus Christi and The Illawarra Grammar School with awards in recognition of their healthy initiatives.

  • Illawarra Grammar School students Namika Parajuli, Quynh-Nhu Nguyen, Hannah Kim and Marua Kynakoudes devised a series of healthy recipes for students to enjoy.