An Evaluation Of The Bluearth Program Education Essay

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The obesity epidemic is seen to be ever growing within Australias culture over the past twenty years, especially within children and the youth. This indicates that Australians are participating in a more sedentary lifestyle compared to a more active lifestyle filled with movement and high motivation (Bauman, Owen & Rushworth 1990). Bauman, Owen and Rushworth (1990) also note that this lifestyle that is being adopted by Australians is leading to an increase in cardiovascular disease and other lifestyle disease such as type two diabetes. Not only will the long term effects impact on Australians physical health but it will also impact on their social and emotional wellbeing and not to mention the Australian health system and economy.

Australians are now looking towards schools to assist in children's social, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing through planned programs (Kusche & Greenberg 1994). It is believed that if wellbeing initiatives are not implemented in schools the county risks their future adults to have a sedentary lifestyle and increases the number of lifestyle diseases and illness that will occur and the lack of resilience that is implied with these health issues. This report seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of two programs aimed at improving the quality of food and physical movement provided to children at schools in Australia.

Program rationale and underlying assumptions

Both the Bluearth program and the [1] 'Go for Your Life' - Healthy School Canteens initiative were established due to the increase of Australian children's increased weight, reports say the Australian children are overweight and obese (Cameron 2003). In Australia the 2005 census reported six to eight percent of children in schools were considered obese, take not that this report did not include the number of children who are overweight. From these reports it was noted that healthy eating and promotion of exercise are critical and need to be included in education for school age children. These children need to be educated about these health issues and how to increase their wellbeing; such programs may also reduce these current statistics.

Bluearth aims to reduce childhood obesity through a program which focuses on 'body, mind and spirit' focusing on doing this through shared involvement in physical activities that are none competitive (Bluearth, 2009). Sport in this program is not seen as focusing on achieving perfect skills or winning but these experiences are seen to be meaningful and aim to contribute to the child's lifelong habits (Bluearth, 2009). Whilst Bluearth focuses on the physical aspects if wellbeing, the 'Go for Your Life' program aimed to reduce childhood obesity through promoting healthy eating and physical activity in primary schools.

The World Health Organisations (2000) report on preventing and managing obesity notes that obesity will have immediate and long term health effects on children and adolescents into their adult years. These range from minor issues such as sleep apnoea to serious health concerns such as cardiovascular disease and even mental health concerns such as depression (Gill, 2009).

Not only is there a concern for the health and wellbeing of these developing children and adolescents but there is also a concern for the pressures these lifestyles will place on the government and healthcare system of Australia (Segal, Carter & Zimmet 1994). This clearly outlines the importance's the government is placing on attempting to reduce and prevent the rising childhood obesity rates. Both initiatives realise that if Australia was to do nothing it would end in the result of poor health within the country yet if the country acts on the program this will have a positive effect on not only the children themselves but the wider Australian community.

Pedagogical approach and Structure


Bluearth adopts a holistic approach with focus on the whole child and their development physically, socially and emotionally through providing a curricula which can be easily integrated into all learning experience through teaching skills for their whole life (Bluearth, 2009; Kusche & Greenberg, 1996). Bluearth also has a Psycho-Social approach to their teaching and learning strategies with the belief that children's lifelong choices to participate in a healthy lifestyle are dependent on their level of enjoyment, personal satisfaction and their perceived competence which is developed at a young age (Bluearth Approach, 1996).

Due to these beliefs the lessons are based on the Self Determination Theory which recognises that schools have an increased ability to influence the motivation of children and in turn support the development of a positive perspective in their current life but also their future life (Bluearth Approach, 1996). The program incorporates three basic human needs; 1) Competence 2) Autonomy 3) Relatedness.

GFYL Healthy School Canteens

GFYL follows a whole of school approach to healthy eating by providing these messages through the school curriculum. GFYL provides not only support materials but also fully completed and well planed lesson plans for their schools which in turn link into the GFYL Healthy School Canteen program. Through these lessons not only do the students learn about healthy eating and health options they also explain the changes that students can make and also develop a positive attitude around healthy options not only in the canteen but in their general lives. The program is not only restricted to the school but extends to the wider school community through nutritional information and education, the program also encourages children and their families to be more physically active. This holistic approach which is integrated throughout the school is in line with the WHOs recommendations as noted in Gill (2009).

Although the theories, structure and pedagogical approaches underpinning each program differs the outcomes they wish to establish within the children and their communities are in line with each other, research and the governments recommendations. Both programs focus on knowledge built not only through the individual programs themselves but through the integration into curricula and the wider communities. Both programs aim to build children who are emotionally, socially and physical active.

Links to Standards and Curriculum


The Bluearth Approach is part of an approach to increase students overall wellbeing. There is a comprehensive amount of resources, tools, handbooks and lesson which covers each level within VELS domains. The Bluearth Approach is in line with the learning outcomes from VELS in the learning standards of Health and Physical Education, Interpersonal Development, Personal Learning and Communication (Bluearth 2012). The program highlights students increasing the physical and emotional wellbeing which will also allow them to identify with needs of others which is highlighted in VELS learning standard of interpersonal development and communication (VCAA 2012).

GFYL Healthy School Canteens

The GFYL Healthy School Canteens program is also part of a nationwide initiative which aims to increase healthy food choices of young people. The GFYL also has a large amount of learning activities aimed at a classroom level based on each VELS level also linking to various standards in learning outcomes and domains. (DEECD 2006). All learning activates base a focus not only on making healthy food choices and healthy eating but also the nutritional aspects and the role of food in students overall health. The main links made to VELS is the domain of Health and Physical Education specifically in health knowledge and promotion and movement and physical activity. This does however present a lack of their holistic approach through other domains.

Evaluation - effectiveness and evidence

Most programs have the ability if established correctly to be implemented effectively, yet this can only occur if the is support and a persistent effort of the people involved which in turn will ensure that the program is easily accessible and achievable across the entire community (Anderson 2003).


In Bluearth sessions it is evident that all children are engaged and are able to centre themselves to focus on their individual actions and movements whilst doing this alongside others (Bluearth 2012). The Smith family (2012) describe the Bluearth Foundation as providing an environment where children have an opportunity to explore themselves and develop understanding about themselves from not only their inner perspectives but those of the wider community. From Cormack and Chalips (1988) study it can be said that due to the lack of competitive sports within the Bluearth program this is reducing the outcomes that Bluearth are aiming to achieve as students are not always taught how to deal with issues around failure.

Bluearth also note that results from the American Journal of Psychology which was published on September 2011, showed that programs with specialist activities such as Bluearth result in students with lower body fat levels and some increase in students achievement academically specifically in writing and numeracy (Bluearth 2012). The Bluearth program has been a focus of a major study conducted by Professor Telford, the LOOK Project was conducted in the ACT. This study focused on comparing the effects of Bluearth with specialised physical education practices, this study is still currently under peer review and has not yet been released (Bluearth 2012).

GFYL Healthy School Canteens

Although there is some extensive research of the GFYL the findings exhibit quite mixed result and views of the imitative. Initially in 2009 a report conducted by GFYL itself noted that schools who presented with award status were providing nutritional foods, had policies which promoted healthy eating and physical activity in comparison to other school undertaking the program (GFYL 2009 & DEECD 2009). Nutrition Australia (2009) also conducted a review of GFYL in the same year; they found that the Green Everyday food category increased in supply by 8.3% on the menus while those on the decrees were Amber on 2.0% and Red on 6.3%.

Although these reports found the GFYL to be achieving their goals, in a more recent study conducted by Silvia-Sanigorski (2010) they found that in spite of the recommendations bought forth by the Victorian government it is still evident in school canteens students have access to unhealthy foods and the canteens are still not implementing the traffic light system successfully.

The authors also noted that there was a vast difference between the recommended 50% of green items with only 20% evident. The evaluation by Silvia-Sanigorski (2010) concluded that further research and education is need to expand the ban on unhealthy items within Victorian school canteens.


Bluearth al appears to take a holistic approach to students' wellbeing through the curriculum yet it is evident that there is room for improvement in several areas of the program including the lack of competitive nature. The Go For your Life Healthy School Canteen policy also takes a holistic approach through the school curriculum and the whole community to increase healthy eating and physical exercise. As this program did appear to have some flaws through research it is understandable to now note why the program is being redesigned into the 'Victorian Prevention and Health Promotion Achievement Program' for a longer lasting program. Both programs should be commended for their constant commitment to achieving the improvement of the wellbeing and health of all children. Both programs have some very admirable aspects which could be adopted into one effective program.