Life without telly

AUSTRALIA: Schools across Australia are encouraging their students to turn off the TV at home.

Teacher Mike Fewster devised the Click Off Click On scheme at Eumemmering Secondary College in Melbourne less than a year ago. Now 90 schools and more than 3,000 students are involved and the number is expected to mushroom.

Families are encouraged to turn off the telly for a fortnight or more and opt for other activities that "promote a healthier, more personally enriching and community focused lifestyle". Mr Fewster realised it was not enough for a family just to turn off the TV and then sit around wondering what to do. So schools are sent guidelines on how they can prepare pupils and parents for switch-off time.

A number of companies are contributing to the scheme. Some have made their facilities, such as skating and aerobics classes, available free during the Click Off weeks. A building supply firm has provided material that enables students to "audit" their home. With this, they can work out what needs to be done - mending, painting, building something.

"I'd encourage all parents to give it a go," said Trish Chandler, a Melbourne mother of six. "For us, turning off the television meant we became a family again."

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