Making sporting clubs healthy and welcoming environments: A strategy to increase participation.

Eime, R. M., Payne, W. R., & Harvey, J. T., (2008). Making sporting clubs healthy and welcoming environments: A strategy to increase participation. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 11, 146-154.

Sporting clubs are an ideal setting to promote community-wide participation in physical activity. Using the principles of the Ottawa Charter as a guide, this study explored the factors affecting the development of supportive environments as a mechanism to increase participation in club sport. The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) funds State Sporting Associations (SSAs) to develop healthy and welcoming environments (HWE) in their associated clubs. The program focus areas are: welcoming and inclusive environments, sports injury prevention, 'smoke-free' environments, responsible serving of alcohol, sun protection and healthy eating. This paper sought to determine whether or not SSA Executive Officers (EOs) believe that the creation of a supportive environment will facilitate sporting club membership and to identify the factors that affect the development of the HWEs. Forty-two (82.4%) of the 51 funded SSAs completed a general survey and 36 (70.6%) of EOs responded to questions that were specifically addressed to them. EOs from six SSAs also participated in semi-structured interviews. SSA EOs (97.2%) believed that the creation of HWE in clubs would facilitate increases in participant membership. However, the data indicate incomplete development of the HWE focus areas at the club level because of limited club capacity and limited SSA support. Reportedly, the SSAs are at the stage of raising program awareness at the club level. It is suggested that SSAs should plan a structured approach to the development of HWEs that acknowledges the diverse capacity of their clubs, and garner the support of key club volunteers in order to establish HWEs.

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