OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) is a program that supports children, through their families and communities, to be healthy now, and stay healthy for life. Established in South Australia in 2009, OPAL is coordinated through local government and works with communities to create opportunities to eat well and be active. OPAL has been rolled out across South Australian in four stages and has been active in 20 local communities across the State and one additional community in the Northern Territory.
All OPAL sites to date, have had a five year investment with the first six sites coming to their natural conclusion in September 2014. The work of OPAL is now embedded in those sites with many activities continuing as they are linked to delivering their local Public Health Plans under the Public Health Act 2011.
Some of the major achievements of the OPAL sites have been made available in the case studies.
OPAL has secured its existing funding from the State Government and has continuing commitment from local Councils ensuring it can continue to work positively in children’s health until 2017. This follows recent uncertainty around funding for the program. The Councils and State Government have seen first-hand the healthy changes the program has been making in local communities and have been heartened by the incredibly positive feedback from schools, families and business who want to keep the program running.
Although in some sites, OPAL will operate in a slightly different way to its original structure, it will continue to support its local communities, each fulfilling their multi-year commitment.
Information and community events about healthy eating and physical activity will be provided to help community members make healthy choices in their lives. Health messages include:
- Life looks brighter outside
- A healthy brekky is easy as PEEL. POUR. POP.
- Water. The Original Cool Drink.
- Give the screen a rest. Active play is best
- Make it a fresh snack
- Think Feet First - step, cycle, scoot to school.
OPAL is currently active in 15 South Australian communities and one community in the Northern Territory. The following councils/cities are part of the OPAL community:
- Charles Sturt
- Copper Coast
- Mid Murray
- Mount Remarkable, Peterborough and the Northern Areas Council (combined communities)
- Murray Bridge
- Palmerston (Northern Territory)
- Port Adelaide Enfield
- Port Augusta
- West Torrens
Contact your local OPAL Council Manager to see if you live within the OPAL community in your council.
Why is OPAL valuable?
Wouldn’t it be great to...
- give your children the best chance to be healthy
- live in a community where there are lots of ways to enjoy being active
- discover safe scenic paths to cycle or walk to work and school
- develop skills for preparing delicious meals that are good for you and your family
- understand food labels so you can plan healthy meals for your family
- feel healthier and have more energy to do the things you enjoy?
Children and adults who are active and enjoy healthy eating are more likely to live a healthy life. That means you and your children may have:
- more energy
- more confidence
- better sleep
- better health – with less risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and some cancers
- stronger bones and healthier joints.
Being active and enjoying healthy eating are also great ways to relax and spend time with family and friends. As well as keeping you and your family healthy, these beneficial lifestyle choices can make our whole community a more rewarding place to live – where people have fewer long-term health problems.
OPAL is part of an expanding network of international, community-based obesity prevention programs and was based on the successful Epode program from France.
How can I get involved?
To find out if you live in an OPAL area, contact your local OPAL Council Manager and discover out how you can be involved.