Girls soccer is the City of Yarra’s new rising star

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The Collingwood City Soccer Club girls soccer program is kicking goals for girls sport in Yarra with the announcement that they will be fielding two girls’ teams in the 2014 season.

The announcement follows a highly successful girls pilot program launched by the club earlier this year with the help of a Small Project Grant from the City of Yarra.

Junior’s coordinator, Sarah Iacono, said she was prompted to launch the program by her daughter, who, after years of watching her brothers play, was keen to have a team of her own.

“The first program we ran we had over 30 girls coming down, and since then we ran the term-four skills program and again we’ve had even more girls joining in,” Ms Iacono said.

Joanne Tyrrell, mother to six year-old twins Sophie and Abbey, said that her daughters thrived as part of the program and continue to pick up new skills each week.

“They truly love the game and going to training, and I think it will be hard to stop them moving into a team as they get older,” Ms Tyrrell said.

While many parents may not think of soccer as a first preference for their daughters, coaching director, Rick Wilson said he believes it can be enormously rewarding for them.

“Once the girls start to train they are often just as competitive as the boys,” Mr Wilson said.

“You often find the girls pick up the footwork drills quicker than the boys do initially, which in turn helps them in their early stages of playing soccer,” he said.

Ms Tyrrell agreed that parents should consider soccer as an option for their girls.

“I think it’s really important that each child, girl or boy, can try anything; I think there are no ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ sports – if you love it, you should do it,” she said.

Mr Wilson said he found soccer helped the girls develop socially, as well as physically.

“It’s about the social skills, mixing it up, taking them from this group and putting them into that one—once they get out there their differences don’t matter it’s just a group of girls who all want to play,” he said.

Ms Iacono said she found the program helped broaden the girls’ social circles.

“It is outside of the normal school activities, netball and basketball often begin as school teams, so you are still with school friends, but I think it is also healthy to have a group of friends outside of your school,” she said.

Ms Tyrrell said that she felt participating in the program had helped her daughters meet girls from other schools.

“They’ve made new friendships and learned to work as a team with girls they have never met before,” Ms Tyrrell said.

Ms Tyrrell said she would encourage girls and their families who were considering joining the program in 2014 to give it a go.

“The coaches are fabulous – they love their job, they know the game, they teach the kids the fundamentals of the game in a gradual, structured and personal way, and they make it their business to get to know the kids,” she said.

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Developing a healthy relationship with food in childhood helps fight obesity

Healthy food realtionships fight obesity

Developing healthy food relationships in children helps fight obesity (Photo:Bread for the World)

Helping children develop a healthy relationship with food helps fight obesity experts say.

The 2007-2008 National Health Survey found that one in four Australian children aged 5 to 17 years are overweight or obese.

Ms Melanie McGrice, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia said helping children develop a healthy relationship with food is essential because it has a pivotal impact upon their future eating habits.

“There are still so many parents who try to teach their children that they need to eat everything that is on their plate,” Ms McGrice said.

“But, children have much smaller stomachs than adults and they have very sensitive appetite hormones, so they’re very good at judging when they’ve had enough to eat,” she said.

Dr Josie Spataro, Psychologist and Eating Disorder Specialist, said it is also important for children to see food as a normal part of everyday life and not something that needs to be dictated by mood, weight, or self-esteem.

“Offer a variety of foods, allow them to have treats without inducing guilt in them, and don’t force them to eat when they are not hungry,” Dr Spataro said.

Mr Peter Tait, father of two, said he found a combination of junk food, television commercials, and peer pressure made it hard to establish healthy eating habits in his children.

“Sometimes when you hear other parents talk about how much, or what, their child eats it can become quite confusing,” Mr Tait said.

Ms McGrice said parents who are concerned about their child’s eating habits should seek expert advice.

iPads help teachers meet individual student needs

iPads in schools

iPads aid in curriculum differentiation (Photo: Lexie Flickinger)

Using iPads in classrooms can help teachers cater to the individual learning needs of their students, according to a leading educational technology researcher.

Dr Kate Highfield, Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute of Early Childhood, said one of the key benefits of using iPads in classrooms was that it allows teachers to differentiate the curriculum very quickly and easily.

“In a classroom children are not a homogenous bunch of learners, they are all at different ages and stages,” Dr Highfield said.

“If we use the device creatively and well, we can cater to the needs of those children at their own level and at their own stage,” she said.

Ms Catherine Maimone-Crowhurst, Director of Early Learning to Year 6 at Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, said her staff found multiple benefits in using iPads to meet individual students needs.

“The iPad allows for discretion, so that within a classroom students wont know the exact level that the other students are working at,” Ms Maimone-Crowhurst said.

Ms Maimone-Crowhurst said the iPad provided an alternative means for students to demonstrate their learning.

“It is the intuitiveness of the technology, they can just pick it up and start using it,” she said.

Dr Wayne Warburton, Deputy Director of the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University, said that while moderate use of technology was unlikely to be harmful, it was important to ensure balance with offline activities.

“In terms of the developing brain, a really crucial time is that time in early puberty where children have a huge amount of hormonal influences, there are lots of social pressures on them, and their brain is wiring up at a furious rate,” he said.

Expert claims Australia is falling behind in food safety standards

Mandatory Warning Label from EU

Warning labels such as these are now mandatory in the EU and UK (Photo:Foodbabe.com)

A failure to implement mandatory warning labels on product packaging has caused Australia to fall behind in food safety standards, an international expert has claimed.

Speaking at a business networking breakfast in early September, Ji Hoong Too, Business Development Director of global food ingredients supplier Chr. Hansen, suggested many countries have converted to natural colours to avoid displaying mandatory warning labels declaring the possible adverse health effects of artificial colours.

“In Australia and New Zealand, no warning labels are required, and as such the conversion away from artificial colours has progressed at a slower rate,” Ms Hoong Too said.

A spokesperson for the responsible government authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), played down concerns and said a 2011 review by the US Food and Drug Administration failed to find a causal link between food colouring and hyperactivity.

“A survey we released in 2012 confirmed that the levels of colours (Australian) children are exposed to are well within established acceptable limits,” the spokesperson said.

Food Intolerance Network founder, Sue Dengate said the FSANZ study was based on old information that did not encompass many of the foods children consume that contain artificial colours.

“We did a colour count of products containing artificial colours in Australia, and there were more in Australia than where activists had counted in Europe prior to the introduction of warning labels,” Ms Dengate said.

Residents angry over removal of council fencing on local parkland

Chain link fence in Yanchep Ct, Taylors Lakes

Taylors Lakes residents were angered when a rise in neighbourhood crime coincided with Brimbank City Council’s replacement of a solid timber fence with a low chain link fence at local parkland.

Residents of Yanchep Court in Taylors Lakes have been angered by a rise in local crime after the removal of a fence on council parkland that borders busy Sunshine Avenue.

Residents say the fence was initially erected after they lobbied council due to the high incidents of crime in the street.

Yanchep Court resident, Debbie O’Grady said that since the removal of the fence neighbourhood crime was once again on the rise.

“My car was broken into a fortnight ago and one of my neighbours had their letterbox smashed,” Ms O’Grady said.

“When the fence was there, this was a quite street where none of this sort of thing went on, but now people are using it as a thoroughfare and there are constantly strangers loitering around,” she said.

At a meeting held with Brimbank City Council last week, residents expressed their disappointment at the council’s lack of consultation in the decision to remove the fence.

Brimbank City Council declined to be interviewed but a statement issued by Director of Infrastructure and Environment, Paul Younis said council had decided to replace the pre-existing damaged solid timber paling fence with a low post and chain fence to improve pedestrian connectivity and the presentation of the park.

In the statement Mr Younis said that council would review the fencing arrangement in three months time.