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Media Launch: Brisbane Lions help bring breakfast to school kids in Acacia Ridge

This week marks the public launch of a business-community collaboration that’s set to bring fuller tummies and a brighter future to children at Watson Road State School. Hosted by the Brisbane Lions, United Way Australia, and Belong (formerly Acacia Ridge Community Services, Inc.), this morning’s media event brings together key stakeholders and supporters of The Breakfast program, with the Brisbane Lions also hosting a coaching clinic for students.

Initiated and run by Belong, The Breakfast Program is ensuring that primary school students receive a healthy meal each day. The collaboration between the Brisbane Lions AFC, Belong and Watson Road State School was facilitated by United Way to further enhance the community response.

Started a year ago, the program works to improve both the intellectual and physical performance of Queensland’s most vulnerable children. Currently more than 52% of Watson Road students are starting school “developmentally vulnerable” – double the state average. Providing nutritious breakfasts to 129 primary students at three days a week, the Breakfast Program is creating better outcomes for students, and building stronger relationships across the community. That’s why the Brisbane Lion’s Club decided to take up the opportunity to help local children thrive.

“As any Lions player will attest, we know only too well how nutrition can affect performance, both on and off the field. Something as simple as a healthy start to the day – a full breakfast with fruits and cereals – can affect how well Aussie kids do in school, and ultimately in life,” says Tawanda Karasa, Community Programs Manager, Brisbane Lions AFC.

Without a nutritious breakfast, children starting the day hungry struggle to learn and engage with their peers at school. According to Miss Gemma Dunn, Acting School Principal: “Hungry students have less energy and tire easily, negatively impacting not only their learning outcomes, but their social ones too. Many of the behavioural problems we see in students can be traced back to simply not getting a healthy breakfast.”

Research has found that food relief programs like school breakfasts translate to increased focus, concentration, improved physical health, attendance and performance at school. In addition to providing breakfasts, the community initiative will educate families about nutrition and healthy eating, as well as provide a friendly way for families to engage with school.

With 53% of students enrolled at Watson Road State School speaking a language other than English at home, engagement programs like this help to overcome the language and cultural barriers that can prevent parents from actively participating in their children’s formal learning, which is critical to improving education outcomes over the long term.

“The issue isn’t just about hunger. It’s about families experiencing disadvantage or discrimination across a range of areas – financial, educational, and cultural. That’s why we’re calling on Acacia Ridge community to come together to support a better future for our children,” says Marcus Curcija, United Way Australia’s Community Impact Manager for Queensland.

With further support, the initiative aims to expand the program to include school lunches, providing students with two full meals per day every day of the week.

Businesses and community groups interested in providing support can contact: Marcus Curcija.

Media enquiries: Marcus Curcija, United Way Australia on: 0414 381 403.

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