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Entries open for 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge

The Heart Foundation is calling for entries in the 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge, which will award grants valued at $10,000 each for innovative community-based projects designed to get Aussies moving. Heart Foundation Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton, said physical inactivity is a key risk factor for heart disease, which continues to be the single leading cause of death in Australia.

In 2018, 48 Australians died every day from heart disease, or about one every half hour. Heart disease accounted for more than one in ten (11.1 percent) deaths that year.

Yet only a minority of Australians are active enough for good heart health. Just 22 percent of 5-17 year olds, 15 percent of 18-64 year olds and 17 percent of over-65s meet Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behavior guidelines. Professor Shilton said statistics like these make it more important than ever for Australians to get off the couch. “For a lot of Aussies, there’s a perception that ‘physical activity’ means joining a gym, jogging around their neighbourhood or playing organised sport,” he said. “These are all legitimate forms of physical activity, but there are so many other fun and innovative ways for people of all fitness levels to be active in their communities. “That’s why we run the Active Australia Innovation Challenge. It’s an avenue for tertiary institutions, schools, councils, community groups and other organisations to tell us their great ideas for encouraging communities to get more active and live a healthier lifestyle.

“There has been renewed interest through COVID-19 in the importance of being active, and these grants offer an opportunity to continue this momentum in innovative ways.” Past Active Australia Innovation Challenge winners have included surf lessons for children with autism; a “silent disco” for aged-care residents; and a program that enables people with a vision impairment to enjoy the social and physical benefits of cycling. This is the third annual Active Australia Innovation Challenge. “We want to build on the success of the first two challenges and look forward to hearing all the bright ideas from communities for new and interesting ways to boost physical activity in their local areas,” Professor Shilton said.

Entries will be open for six weeks from today (1 September 2020). Shortlisted applicants will have the chance to refine and pitch their ideas, before a panel of experts decides on up to 10 winners. They will each receive a grant of $10,000 to turn their project idea into a reality. The Active Australia Innovation Challenge is part of the Healthy Heart Initiative, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. The challenge will run annually for four years between 2018 and 2021. Visit the challenge website full terms and conditions.