The Standard

Aussie school kids have a blast with 'awesome' cricket program feeding minds and bodies

Students at the Dallas Brooks Community School embraced the Breakfast Blast program. Picture supplied.

This is branded content for Dettol.

When Victorian teacher Wayne Schultz had the idea of combining the game of cricket with a bowl of cereal and some fresh fruit, little did he know the impact it would have on his school and students.

Mr Schultz, lead teacher for physical literacy and student engagement at Dallas Brooks Community Primary School in Melbourne's north, joined forces with Cricket Australia in November to trial a month-long program of cricket and brekky sessions before school.

The pilot Breakfast Blast Program - offering the kids the chance to enjoy some cricket fun and breakfast supplied by their local Woolworths store - had such good outcomes that it's being rolled out to more schools around Australia.

"We had almost 200 kids register - half the school - and the smiles on their faces, and the positive impact it's had across so many aspects for the school, has been amazing," Mr Schultz said.

"They get to burn off some energy and have a healthy breakfast and then they're already at school and engaged, and ready to head into the classroom to learn."

Breakfast Blast is part of Cricket Australia's school-focused Woolworths Cricket Blast and Woolworths Community Fund programs that have operated around the country for many years.

Currently around 60,000 kids participate in each season in the Cricket Blast program aimed at helping kids experience the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity, and discover the fun of cricket.

Through the Woolworths Community Fund - which provides cricket associations with funds to extend the reach of cricket to kids from disadvantaged communities who may not have access to the sport - more than 16,000 young cricketers, across 500 different programs, have had the opportunity to get involved.

This January, to help provide a summer-time boost to the fund, one of Cricket Australia's key partners in its grassroots cricket program, Dettol, is also teaming up with Woolworths to donate up to $300,000 to the Woolworths Community Fund.

For the students of the highly multi-cultural Dallas Brooks Community Primary School, the success of the Breakfast Blast program has been a "game-changer", said Mr Schultz.

Cricket Australia, hygiene partner Dettol and Woolworths joined forces to deliver the highly successful Breakfast Blast program to the students of Dallas Brooks Community Primary School.

As well as encouraging exercise and ensuring the kids were set up for the day nutritionally, the Breakfast Blast program reduced absenteeism as well as the number of student late arrivals, and helped foster a greater sense of inclusion for the students and their families.

Mr Schultz said his "lightbulb" moment around the idea of holding morning sessions rather than after school followed feedback from the school community.

The school has long run its breakfast hub, providing breakfast daily to those students who need it, and had also been heavily involved with Cricket Australia in Victoria through its programs.

"We have been looking at ways to boost our students participation in out of hours community sport - we had zero students involved in sport outside of the school," Mr Schultz said.

"So we hoped the cricket programs would help spark a love of cricket and then encourage them to want to participate outside of school as well, but we had always looked at an after school approach.

"But when students told us they would participate in the programs a lot more before school I had that lightbulb moment - we had a great breakfast hub and a high-quality program like the Woolworths Cricket Blast. Why not join them together? We've been blown away by the results."

Cricket Victoria cricket manager - North West Metro region Seb Gargana, who worked with Mr Schultz to launch the trial, said the success of the Breakfast Blast model is one he hoped could be replicated in other schools.

"Getting those 200 kids registered is quite an achievement - the highest in the state for any program we've run through a non-traditional cricket club," he said.

"It provided such a great opportunity for kids, who might have been disengaged with the school community, to be physically active, and also importantly have a nutritional breakfast keeping them nourished on the sport field and in the classroom.

"It's very satisfying seeing the kids eating together, having a laugh and being so excited and eager to play."

During the trial Mr Gargana had the task of collecting the breakfast items from the local Woolworths Broadmeadows store including 20 kilograms of cereal and 30 to 40 litres of milk, plus apples, bananas and mandarins, each week.

Along with the many benefits, the program raised a challenge for the school - convincing the happy students to remove their Cricket Blast caps and polo shirts and wear their school uniform.

"It's not a bad headache to have - they were just very proud and engaged in it all, it was really awesome to see," Mr Schultz said.

"For me what I most loved was seeing the social and emotional learning that was happening, the students developing that love of movement, with cricket as the vehicle, and the positive start to the morning with kids turning up to school on time, with that readiness to learn."

Dettol's commitment to community cricket includes providing clubs with hygiene protocols and products offering trusted germ protection to players, their families and spectators. This January, Dettol is teaming up with Woolworths to raise up to $300,000 for grassroots cricket. Buy any Dettol product at Woolworths this month to help donate to the Woolworths Community Fund. Find out more at www.dettol.com.au

This is branded content for Dettol.