Waiting to take a turn tackling the champ: Cayden Geljon, and Ruben Hasse with Geoff Howard Member for Buninyong watching Rio Olympian Melissa Tapper doing what she loves.

The Ballarat community is warming up again to lead the way in this year’s Premier’s Active April challenge. Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard and Member for Wendouree Sharon Knight joined table tennis champion Melissa Tapper, last Friday, to officially open registrations for this year’s initiative. In Rio, Tapper made his tory becoming the first Australian to compete in both Olympic and Paralympic Games. Last week she inspired students at St Francis Xavier Primary School about the benefits of staying active. Melissa took to the microphone explaining about her disability, saying she has not let it stop her from doing what she wants to do. “I had an amazing PE teacher at school, who was absolutely awesome and encouraged everyone to play as many sports as they could,” she said. “One day I struck table, I wasn’t always good at it but I had so much fun while I was playing and I went back once a week and ended up getting better.” Last year more than 104,000 people made a pledge to do 30 minutes of exercise each day during April, and collect some great prizes.

Of these registrations, 60 per cent were women. This wave is tipped to continue with record numbers of women and girls expected to sign up to get involved at grassroots clubs in Ballarat. Ballarat had the most registrations of any regional council, with 5,636 people signing up. Walking was by far the most popular activity with Ballarat participants tracking more than 320,000 minutes of walking in one month.

Recent research shows Victorian women are now outperforming men when it comes to keeping active. It reveals 61 per cent of women are exercising at least three times a week compared to 57 per cent of men.

Getting involved in Active April can be as simple as taking a regular walk, riding to school or work, exercising during your lunch break, getting out in the garden or joining your local sports club.

People can sign up as an individual or you can get your friends, family or work colleagues together to form a team. Last year saw nearly 11,000 teams join and motivate each other to stay active.

This year participants will benefit from a new mobile app that records their physical activity, the time they spend exercising, and allows groups to track and compare their progress. Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard said, “Active April is a fun, free and great way to get fit and healthy in Ballarat – and you can pocket a lot of great prizes along the way too.” Sign up today at www. activeapril.vic.gov.au or join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Registrations are open until April 30.