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As part of Active Geelong’s ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY’ movement to make Geelong the most active city in Australia, we want to spotlight the everyday heroes who are changing their lives for the better through physical activity.

Educating our young people in the new reality of COVID-19 has been challenging for all schools.

Yet it has been uplifting to see so many learning institutions around Geelong push physical education as a priority during this uncertain time, recognising the benefits – both physical and mental – that await students who are prepared to get out and exercise.

Throughout the region, schools have embraced the concept of a virtual running and walking challenge for their students, perhaps replacing the traditional school ‘cross country’ competition that would normally occur at this time of year.

Whether it be pitting House vs House, setting goals for individual students to achieve or a whole-school challenge to collectively ‘run around Australia’, public and private schools have strongly advocated the need for young people to stay active.

One school, Christian College Geelong, have added a different element – extending their call to arms to include the parents and school staff to complete as much exercise as possible during a five-week period called the ‘2020 Virtual RunFest’.

This has encouraged entire families to spend the increased time they have in isolation to complete more exercise – together!

One such family is the Moynahans – our Active Geelong ‘Everybody Everyday’ Heroes for this month.

The family of seven – mother Mel, father Terry, four boys Ethan, Seth, Matty, Joel and sister Naomi – have found that being cooped up at home doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As well as logging a daily journal of their runs and walks to register points for their school’s RunFest, the family has enjoyed things like bike-riding, online-led strength exercises, home gym sessions, online ballet classes, pilates and – with some imaginative placement of basketball rings in and out of the house – plenty of hoops.

Each morning begins with a family walk, setting the tone for a day of learning, work and physical activity that is to be embraced, not wasted, by all.

Their story is reflective of greater anecdotal evidence that suggests families have used the COVID-19 isolation period to motivate each other to be more physically active, as it has placed parents and siblings into each other’s daily rhythms and presenting opportunities for exercising together that would have otherwise not existed.

For some families, this has meant they have actually completed more physical activity than they otherwise would have during the months of April and May – given greater flexibility in their work schedule and access to more daylight hours.

Interestingly, there are early reports of a surge in people downloading more exercise-tracking applications and technological devices, and no doubt students competing in virtual physical activity challenges are contributing to this – hopefully setting up habits that will continue even as they return to normal schooling.

Other families, such as the Moynahans, have found inventive ways to replace the exercise they have been unable to pursue, such as organised community sports, because of the COVID restrictions.

Mel says school-based concepts such as virtual running and walking challenges are crucial to assisting students in their learning, as well as the proven health benefits and building a life-long passion for physical activity.

“I have always been a strong believer that working the muscles helps open the brain to learn, because exercise clears the mind and fills the blood with dopamine,” Mel said.

“Our kids all like to stay active, so we have encouraged them to get out whenever they are feeling stuck in their schoolwork – whether it be go for a ride or a walk, or just shoot some hoops to clear their minds,” she said.

“It is very important and it makes a huge difference.”

Do you know someone who is an ‘EVERYBODY, EVERYDAY HERO’? Contact Active Geelong and help us give them the recognition they deserve for trying to make Geelong the Most Active City in Australia!