Students involved in the WSLHD Students As Lifestyle Activists (SALSA) program have had a masterclass in leadership from the top-ranking Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL club.
The leadership training day – dubbed “SALSA standing tall” – aimed to build the capacity of SALSA peer leaders to advocate for healthy lifestyle changes in their neighbourhoods.
SALSA is driven by WSLHD’s Primary Health Care Education and Research Unit (PERU), and aims to increase fruit, vegetable and water consumption, and daily physical activity, in high schools students.
Its innovative approach sees university students trained as SALSA educators, who then educate Year 10 peer leaders about the importance of good food and lifestyle choices.
The Year 10 peer leaders then educate Year 8 students, who in turn develop both personal goals and an action plan for their school.
Thirty five trained SALSA peer leaders from Rooty Hill High School, Blacktown Girls High School and Chifley College, Mount Druitt Campus, who delivered the SALSA program earlier this year, joined the training day at the GWS training facilities at Sydney Olympic Park on August 3.
The GWS Giants team and chief operational officer James Avery showcased how to be a leader in the community for social good.
SALSA and PERU director Dr Smita Shah said interactive activities throughout the day encouraged students to learn from their peers.
“We guided students through developing a pitch to improve their local neighbourhood,” she said.
“It didn’t take them long to come up with some creative actions for change to make it easier for them to eat well and be active in their neighbourhoods.
“The students’ ideas were ideal for the next step of the project, where they will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to community stakeholders and be agents of change in their local area.”