Our People to Live Stronger & Longer

Sydney Kings and Flames launch Healthy Deadly Kids Program in partnership with AH&MRC

The Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings and Brydens Sydney Uni Flames, in partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC) have officially launched the Clubs’ first Indigenous community program, Healthy Deadly Kids (HDK).

HDK is unique in Australian sport, developed and run by Indigenous Australians.  The program is a healthy living education initiative aimed at primary school aged children from Early Stage 1 – Stage 3 that focuses on teaching a holistic view of health and wellbeing.

There are seven key learning areas that involve both theoretical components and physical activities which have been developed by health service professionals in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services sector in conjunction with the Kings and Flames. The learning topics covered over a school term allow facilitators to explore students’ knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a ‘healthy, deadly kid’.

The program is currently delivered in primary school classrooms, with the goal to bring it online and make it available to all Australian kids.

Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings CEO Chris Pongrass, said: “We recognised early on that we needed to take small, meaningful steps in order to create a difference in the Indigenous community. In partnership with AH&MRC and following the introduction of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we are thrilled to launch our Indigenous community program HDK”.

“Basketball is among the most popular sports for Indigenous Australians – the Kings and Flames can use basketball as a platform to help foster positive change, educate the youth on healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices, and encourage participation and elite development in young Indigenous athletes through programs like Healthy Deadly Kids” said Pongrass.

CEO of AH&MRC Robert Skeen said: “We’re very excited to launch this partnership with the Kings and the Flames. These athletes will inspire our kids and encourage them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and physical activity every day.

“HDK is about educating the younger generation to make intergenerational changes around healthy eating and lifestyle, so to have these athletes come in and act as role models and mentors, and help with conveying the message is really important”.

To lead the delivery of the Healthy Deadly Kids community program, the Kings have employed Joel Cama, a young Indigenous man and also retained the services of Matt Flinn, former Illawarra Hawks Head Coach who is passionate in his support of Indigenous community work and has a large portfolio initiating community programs from his career in the NBL.

Former NBL-star and Indigenous athlete Tyson Demos has also joined the Club as a program facilitator. Demos – in conjunction with Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service educator Nikita Tompkins who will manage the in-classroom learning – will be responsible for managing the post-classroom component alongside Kings and Flames players and coaches, on the basketball court.

“The thing I love about the Healthy Deadly Kids program is that we run these sessions on a weekly basis, which allows us to build up a rapport and trust with the kids” Demos said.

“The eight-week program engages primary school kids throughout Sydney and NSW in a positive and safe environment, and it allows us to equip them with invaluable tools, skills and experience to flourish and live a healthy lifestyle, while promoting the benefits of physical activity through basketball” said Demos.

The roll out of the program which tipped off last month at Warilla North Public School includes several schools throughout the Illawarra and Greater Sydney regions. Briar Road Public School and Reiby Juvenile Detention Centre are also part of the Term 1 roll out. The program will run for the entirety of 2021 with additional schools to be included in Term 2 and beyond.

Kane Ellis, CEO of the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service, played an integral part in creating  the program three years ago and spoke about how it differs from other health programs for kids in the community.

“The difference between HDK and other programs is that it is delivered by Indigenous people to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids. We think this is one of the most important aspects of the program, the delivery of it” Ellis said.

“We flipped the switch on the way these programs are typically rolled out by delivering an Aboriginal program to all kids, not the other way round. Most of the ambassadors and educators who are teaching the program understand the struggles and the barriers which these kids often come up against”.

“The outcome is to have a few of these kids who walk away from the program better educated, an elite person, and to thrive in the environment that they’re in, and hopefully give back to the community what they’ve learnt through the HDK program” said Ellis.

As was announced late last year, the Club has appointed an Indigenous Advisory Committee who will help guide key decisions and oversee the delivery of the organisations RAP goals which includes the Healthy Deadly Kids program. Indigenous leaders, Kane Ellis, Bruce Shillingsworth, Jamie Soward and Cain Slater are joined on the committee by Paul Smith, former Kings captain and TSE staff member, Kevin Lisch and Flames Head Coach, Katrina Hibbert.

Watch the Healthy Deadly Kids Program video to learn more about the program.

For more information about the partnership, contact comms@ahmrc.org.au