Rugby league is more than a game.
For Troy Duncan, who is responsible for pathways and community programs at Norths Devils, it’s a vehicle for positive change.
Duncan runs the Norths Devils’ Belong Program, which aims to educate children on key wellbeing habits and encourage healthy choices.
“Wellbeing is so important, particularly for kids in that Year 4 and Year 5 age group,” Duncan said.
“The aim is to try and reach as many kids as we can and try and educate them about things that will help them into adulthood.”
The program, which started in 2021, covers healthy eating and sleeping habits, the importance of being connected and respecting others, self-awareness and personal growth, connection and gratitude, and the importance of being active.
Duncan delivered the four-week program to 16 classes across eight schools – that’s about 370 pupils - in the north Brisbane area, as well as one-day courses at Wondai State School, St Joseph’s in Murgon and Cherbourg State School during Hostplus Cup Activate! Queensland Country Week.
“The best feedback we get is that teachers are seeing positive changes in the kids’ behaviour,” Duncan said.
“(Hostplus Cup coach) Dave Elliott’s kids came home from school telling him they wanted to eat healthier and be more active, so they are listening.
“If we’re getting through to 10-year-olds, creating a connection with them across the four weeks, we’re able to make a positive difference to their lives.”
Duncan said moving forward the aim was to connect with as many students as possible by expanding the program to at least 12 schools next year.
“This is about Norths connecting with the community and connecting with our schools, connecting with kids in our little catchment in north Brisbane, to positively impact their lives,” Duncan said, adding he was always sad when the four weeks was up because he loved seeing the children and the smiles on their faces.
“It’s so rewarding seeing the different messages around healthy habits and connection sinking in.”