St Kilda Football Club is thrilled to see SaintsPlay nominated as a finalist for the 2019 VicHealth Awards. 

The VicHealth Awards are the state’s highest accolade for health promotion, recognising the efforts of local grassroots projects, state-wide campaigns and everything in-between. 

SaintsPlay is one of 59 finalists and one of seven nominees to promote health through physical activity and sport. 

SaintsPlay serves as a stepping-stone for children aged 5-13 with developmental challenges such as autism or ADHD to gain confidence and subsequently join local football clubs. 

READ: Saints recognised at Australian Pride in Sport Awards

35 children took part in the program this year, with six sessions run from RSEA Park and the Linen House Centre. 

SaintsPlay also offered four-week football programs and Special Development Schools and local coach inclusive training sessions.

St Kilda Football Club Head of Community Engagement Jonathan Coyne said he was honoured SaintsPlay had been acknowledged. 

“It’s fantastic to have SaintsPlay recognised by VicHealth and have our program nominated for such a prestigious award,” Coyne told 

“The difference we’re making to children and families across the community is so rewarding for everyone involved. 

Providing opportunities for people of all abilities and creating safe and inclusive environments for them is what it’s all about. 

Funding from the VicHealth Innovation Challenge: Sport grant last year helped AFL and St Kilda Football Club develop inclusive environments for children with autism and their families. 

In partnership with Deakin University, AllPlay Footy, Amaze and the AFL, St Kilda Football Club’s positive impact was felt across the wider community. 

The Saints helped local Auskick centres and junior football clubs implement inclusive practices by building their understanding and capacity to be more welcoming and accepting to families with children who have a developmental challenge. 

St Kilda became the first AFL club to introduce Chill Out Zones in Season 2019, with every home game at Marvel Stadium providing the safe space for children to decompress and relax after experiencing sensory overloads. 

The 2019 VicHealth Award Ceremony will be held on Tuesday 3 December 2019. 

Click here to find out more about SaintsPlay.