Engaging students with medal-winning sport science and nutrition

The Victorian Institute of Sport Advancement Series connects Victorian secondary students with leading experts in sport nutrition and sport science. The program enriches the students’ remote learning with engaging and interactive content from the dieticians and sport scientists behind Victoria’s Olympians and Paralympians.

With the support of the Victorian Government, the Advancement Series delivers free education sessions to Government secondary schools to extend the nutrition and sport science knowledge of Victorian students. When the program launched at the beginning of term 3, the bookings came flying in and within weeks the program was booked out for the term. 
Zac Anderson, teacher at Mernda Central College in Melbourne’s north-east, immediately jumped on the opportunity to extend his students’ understanding of these health and physical education concepts.

“We were attracted to this opportunity for our Athlete Development Program students to participate in and gain a further understanding into sports science from elite level experts with real life experiences working with VIS athletes and teams,” Anderson said. 
The Year 7-10 Athlete Development Program Coordinator, signed his students up for both the Nutrition Advancement and Sport Science Advancement sessions. 
“During remote learning it was fantastic for our students to engage with sports science professionals who provided students with fantastic insights into key concepts in the areas of sports science and nutrition and share their experiences working with elite athletes,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson the sessions had been a huge benefit to students allowing them to take away and apply key ideas and practical examples of how they can improve their own health outcomes and athletic pursuits. 
“The sports science session provided students with a more detailed understanding of the variety of sports science professions and the role that they play as part of an elite athlete’s progression,” he said and added “the nutrition session provided students with practical examples of how they can improve their current nutrition practices especially relating to the importance of pre and post competition and training.”
The students were blown away by some of the behind-the-scenes information that the Victorian Institute of Sport experts provided. “I could not believe the amount of Weet-Bix Mack Horton eats before and after training,” one of the Mernda Central College students said. 
They also learned the importance of having the right diet. “The nutrition session reminded me how important post training eating is and making sure I am eating the right foods including carbohydrates and protein,” a student said. Other students enjoyed learning about the different sports science staff that work with VIS athletes and teams.
The content for the program is created by VIS Lead Biomechanist Dr Elaine Tor and VIS Nutrition Coordinator & Advanced Sports Dietitian Kylie Andrew, supported by the VIS nutrition team. Dr Tor has been at the VIS for over five years and works with some of swimming’s biggest names, including Rio gold medallist, Mack Horton. Andrew has led the VIS nutrition team for 12 years and specifically works with the VIS winter sport, diving, netball, Para cycling, sailing and swimming programs. Andrew is also the Dietitian for the Richmond Football Club. 

Victoria Brackley, PhD Candidate in Swimming Skill Acquisition at Victoria University, assists with delivery of the program. Brackley works under Dr Tor at the VIS and in her PhD she has been exploring the transfer between drills and competition performances in elite freestyle swimmers. The combined knowledge and experience of the VIS team ensures Victorian students are hearing the most up-to-date information and cutting edge concepts so students can connect their knowledge of health and fitness to the real-world setting of elite sport.
All sessions are currently being delivered virtually to comply with restrictions in Victoria. The education sessions are free for Victorian Government schools, promoting advanced nutrition and sport science concepts to metropolitan and regional schools all over the State.
Cathryn Pruscino coordinates the VIS Advancement Series and manages VIS sponsor & stakeholder relations, said the VIS wants to reach all parts of Victoria in promoting the message of sound nutrition and physical fitness.
“We hope that Victorian students can embrace the knowledge gained from high performance sport and apply it to their everyday lives so they too can perform at their best,” she said.
The Victorian Institute of Sport Advancement Series is supported by the Victorian Government. The program is part of the Department of Education and Training’s Victorian Challenge and Enrichment Series providing enrichment opportunities across the curriculum to extend high-ability students in Victorian government schools. 
Access more information about the Victorian Institute of Sport Advancement series here

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