Danielle O'Brien who has begun a petition to remove McDonalds as sponsor of Little Athletics. Photo: Ken Irwin
A frustrated mother is urging Little Athletics to dump fast-food giant McDonald's as their major sponsor.
Danielle O'Brien from Upwey posted a petition on change.org a week ago, after her seven-year-old daughter Jasmine received a McDonald's voucher along with an achievement award at a Little Athletics meet.
Ms O'Brien has since received more than 7000 signatures of support.
"Little Athletics promotes active lifestyle and McDonald's goes against everything it represents. There are so many other better sponsors out there," she said,
"It just doesn't make sense to me. And including it in an encouragement award… it sends the wrong message to the kids."
Ms O'Brien grew tired of seeing the McDonald's logo plastered on the children's uniforms, training programs and team website, and after consulting other parents at the club she discovered all of them felt the same way.
"Even parents who aren't in the club are supportive, because McDonald's don't just sponsor Little Athletics; they also sponsor Hoop Time and Auskick. The fact more than 7,000 people have signed it shows the wider society agrees with
Little Athletics Victoria chief executive Dean Pulin says many of the association's events wouldn't be possible without McDonald's financial support. "I fully understand that people in the community will have their opinions. But on the other hand without the support of McDonald's, we wouldn't be able to offer the programs we do to our members.
"Those events encourage kids to live healthy lifestyles and we see their support as invaluable."
Pulin wouldn't confirm the amount McDonald's pays in sponsorship costs each year to Little Athletics Australia due to confidentiality.
The fast-food restaurant is standing by their decision to continue supporting the club.
"The main purpose of our support is to add value to the community and to encourage kids to be active and embrace balanced lifestyles," said a spokesperson for the company.
"We encourage children to 'never stop playing' by contributing to sportingorganisations that develop kids' sports skills and provide opportunities for them to play."
O'Brien's online petition joins another change.org petition drafted by a primary school parent, asking for Basketball Victoria to cut ties with the restaurant chain.
The issue comes as pressure mounts on McDonald's to abandon their plans to build an outlet in Tecoma.
O'Brien plans to ramp up the pressure by arranging meetings with McDonald's and Little Athletics Victoria in addition to encouraging the signatories to write letters.
“I'll keep pushing. It's really important to speak to them about this… McDonalds and Little Athletics need to answer,” she said.
"I'm not going away."