Storm to play host to ARMtour

ARMtour (Athletes as Role Models tour) and the Melbourne Storm will be making the dreams of 15 children come true this week (Tuesday) when they make the trip from the community of Yirrkala (600km east of Cairns) in North-East Arnhem Land to Melbourne where they will meet and have fun with their Melbourne Storm heroes.

ARMtour is a unique and successful program that encourages children in remote indigenous communities to live healthier lives.

Many athletes and entertainment stars including cricketer Alan Border, TV personality Santo Cilauro, basketballer Chris Anstey and AFL footballer Luke Darcy are all involved in ARMtour.

The children will watch the players train, join them for a game of touch rugby afterwards, and have a bar-b-que lunch with their heroes.

Former Storm full-back and premiership player Robbie Ross was the catalyst for getting current star winger Matt Geyer and the Storm players involved in the program.

"Robbie Ross has been up to the Northern Territory and he has had a bit to do with the kids," explained Geyer.

"He's been up there twice to provide leadership and motivation to the group. He introduced me to Matt Hollard (ARMtour representative) and I was more than happy to get involved with the program.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for us as athletes to provide inspiration if we can for those less fortunate than ourselves."

ARMtour is a unique and successful program that encourages children in remote indigenous communities to live healthier lives.

ARMtour takes a fresh approach, using sport and the influence of high profile athletes to give hope and enrich the lives of Australian indigenous youth.

Through regular and consistent contact, trust and relationships are built between young people and ARMtour role models. Athletes return to spend time in the same communities three or four times a year.

Athletes and other role models donate their time and in some cases, pay their own airfares.

Typical community visits are for three days and involve classroom presentations and educational activities. Sporting skills clinics follow, with focus on participation rather than competition and delivering healthy lifestyle messages.

Athletes interact with the young people while chatting about the issues they face. The ARMtour key messages are:

? Stay in School. ? Stay off the 'grog', don't sniff petrol or misuse any other substances. ? Take care of your bodies by eating healthy foods and drinking healthy drinks. ? Play sport to have fun and keep fit.

We seek to use the platform of sport through the influence of high profile sportsmen and women to enhance hope for the future and enrich the lives of young Australians. Outside of music, sport is recognised as the most significant interest and influence in young people's lives.

'Athletes as Role Models' (ARMtour) is a role-modelling program conducted each year, which touches the lives of isolated, indigenous youth in the remote areas of the Northern Territory. ARMtour instils a greater sense of hope for the future by building self-esteem and equipping youth for decision-making. This is achieved through demonstrating and participation in skills and initiative exercises, encouragement and positive affirmation alongside open discussion regrading issues relevant to young people.

ARMtour was initially designed to assist indigenous young people to see past their immediate, challenging environments and to look forward with hope to their future. With unemployment at nearly 80% and alcohol abuse a major cause of personal injury and mortality, it's not easy to be positive about the future. These "kids" love their sport, basketball, footy, track and field, whatever they can be involved with in a positive way.

Elite athletes found that the "kids" listened and responded positively by changing their attitudes and modifying their behaviour. By conducting general sports clinics and discussing issues like petrol sniffing, alcohol abuse and remaining in school, school attendance increased and there was greater participation in organised sports.

Matt Hollard, the man responsible for putting the tour together, believes by having the children leave their communities and meet their heroes will be of enormous benefit to their personal growth.

"We are doing something a little different. Instead of us going out to the communities to deliver our messages we are bringing 15 young people down to Melbourne, all the way from North East Arnhem Land, for what we are calling Armtour 'The Melbourne Experience'" said Hollard.

"Armtour continues to make a huge impact in these communities, and by building personal relationships on a continual basis, our goal is to give them dreams and hopes, that they can one day become who they want to be."

For more information on ARMtour, go to