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First published Tuesday 21 June 2022.

The Telethon Kids Institute has always had a reputation for being one of the best child health research institutions in Australia, so when I had the opportunity to join the Institute in 2012 I considered it to be an incredible privilege (and still do!). The Institute’s vision, ‘Happy, Healthy, Kids’ is a cause I genuinely believe in and want to contribute to.

The Institute’s level of support for Early Career Researchers is phenomenal – they offer mentoring and leadership programs, seed funding grants, travel awards, publication awards, early career excellence awards, salary support, this Illuminate Award! – all of which are instrumental in helping to build a competitive track record for a long and successful career in research. In additional to all the incredible facilities the Institute provides (e.g. beautiful office spaces, IT/Finance/Grant/Communication support) the people that work at Telethon Kids are passionate and driven, have high integrity and are all here to achieve the same vision. To be able to work alongside likeminded people that want to make a difference continually inspires me in my role.

This Illuminate Award will enable me to kick start a new program of research focusing on improving the nutritional quality of Kids Menus in cafes and restaurants. I’m shocked at how unhealthy Kids Menus are – nothing but chicken nuggets and chips, burgers and chips or fish and chips – all deep fried and not a vegetable in sight!

My long-term goal is to obtain funding to develop, pilot and trial a certified children’s healthy menu program which provides practical support, resources and formal recognition to restaurants that offer a healthy Kids Menu (imagine a Telethon Kids Institute ‘tick of approval’ on Kids Menus that meet health criteria!). However, I first need to demonstrate that parents/caregivers, children and food business owners would welcome such an intervention and that healthy Kids Menus can be an economically viable option.

I will also work with one of our stakeholders, the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) and the WA Local Government Association to develop a ‘Best Healthy Kids Menu Award’ as an additional incentive for industry to strive towards creating the best Healthy Kids Menu.

Given households eat out two-to-three nights per week on average, creating a movement towards more nutritious, less energy dense foods being made available for children in restaurants and cafes has the potential to improve children’s dietary intakes and reduce their risk of overweight/obesity at the population-level.

To learn more about how you can support an Illuminate Award or attend an upcoming event, please get in touch with our Philanthropy team today.

We are incredibly grateful for gifts at any level, for any duration and will work with you to build a lasting relationship to ensure your gift is directed to an area of research that matters to you most.

Simmone Sharp

Simmone Sharp
Philanthropy Manager - Major Gifts