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Regenerative Project

Help educate Indigenous children about the importance of physical activity

This regenerative project supports the Indigenous Marathon Foundation’s I-CAN (Indigenous Communities for Activity & Nutrition) program, that educates school children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities about the importance of physical activity and improves their awareness around physical wellbeing and nutrition.

The aim of this specific project is to fund an 8-week I-CAN program at a nominated school. IMF has a list of schools in Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Island, that it aims to support through the I-CAN program over the coming years. Once the target fundraising amount is achieved the next school on this list will become the recipient of the fully funded 8 week I-CAN program. It is estimated that the project will impact approx. 60-70 students, who will benefit from –

> At the start and completion of the program, children participate in physical fitness and physical literacy screenings. The results are compared against the I-CAN database which includes screenings of over 36,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous primary school aged children from 464 schools across Australia.

> Children have fun and learn about healthy eating (“sometimes” and “always” foods), the importance of regular physical activity, different body categories (Cardio fitness, coordination, flexibility, strength, strength endurance etc) and relevance to life, sports etc.

> Games and activity resource kit and manual

> Delivery of targeted activities and games to address areas of need within the school, following analysis of screenings – usually between screening 1 and 2.

> The physical fitness and literacy screenings focus on:

• Strength endurance (sit-ups)

• Muscular strength (hand grip strength)

• Flexibility

• Body composition (weight, height, BMI)

• Power and coordination

• Cardio-vascular fitness


> Increasing regular physical activity to reduce chronic disease, especially Type II Diabetes, renal failure, heart disease and stroke, across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

> Driving self-empowerment through physical health and education, and in time addressing multi-generational trauma through that self-empowerment.

> Creating healthier and more physically active Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through inclusive and safe community health initiatives.

> Providing leadership, education, and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples where they would otherwise not exist.

> Finding, supporting, and promoting the next generation Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

> Promoting positive and uplifting stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

> Building tangible connections to culture and cross-cultural learnings

> Increase school attendance and academic performance for First nations children, especially in remote communities.

Addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Good Health And Well-being:  Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development.

Quality Education:  Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development.


  • These health assessments and physical fitness screenings, with their associated interventions have led to an average of 65.6% improvement in these children’s fitness index and an across the board 60% school attendance.


Since its inception, the I-CAN program has done 1,162 health assessments and physical fitness screenings across 16 schools in remote communities such as Ammonguna, Maningrida, Ntaria (NT), Timber Creek (NT), Canteen Creek (NT) and Mornington Island (QLD). Bamaga and Aurukun (QLD) are scheduled for participation in 2023.

For 2023 IMF has received dedicated support from the Torres Strait Shire Council to deliver the I-CAN program in several communities across the Torres Strait. This is an exciting opportunity for IMF to capture almost every school across 15 communities in the Torres Strait.


In a national study of Australian young people’s perspectives, health ranked as the second most important domain for having a good life (Redmond et al. 2016). In addition to their own health, young people also reported that the health of family members (for example, a parent or grandparent) was important for their wellbeing (Redmond et al. 2016).

Health is influenced by factors such as individual and psychological make-up, lifestyle, environmental and cultural influences, socioeconomic conditions and access to quality health care programs and services (AIHW 2018a). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a multidimensional construct that incorporates physical, mental, and social wellbeing and so is more than just the absence of disease or infirmity (WHO 1946).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples represent a disproportionately high percentage of people with chronic disease in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians. In recent years, many strength-based approaches to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have produced positive results.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people take a broader perspective of health and view it not just as the physical wellbeing of the individual, but the social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing of the whole community (AIHW 2016).

As a health promotion agency, IMF seeks to increase the wellbeing of students in Indigenous communities by implementing a holistic program which covers off on physical wellbeing as well as implementing strategies to break the cycle of educational disadvantage.

According to the Australian Medical Journal ( improved educational attainment can increase life expectancy by up to 10 years. In view of the Indigenous life expectancy gap, which is, at birth, 10.6 years lower for Indigenous Australians males than for non-Indigenous males, and 9.5 years lower for Indigenous females than for non-Indigenous females, there is a great need for programs such as I-CAN that address health and school attendance at the same time.

Education attainment is a potent, practical, and achievable force for health improvement in Indigenous communities.

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