Thousands of Waikato pre-schoolers are benefitting from a healthy nutrition and activity programme developed with $1.1 million of government anti-obesity funding says Health Minister Tony Ryall.
“In July last year, the Government allocated $1.1 million to support good nutrition guidelines and the development of physical exercise programmes in the Waikato region,” says Mr Ryall.
This includes around 130 childhood centres in Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Te Kauwhata, Raglan, Tokoroa, Putaruru, Tirau, Thames, Waihi, Ngatea, Paeroa, and Waikato Kindergarten Association centres in Hamilton.
“Sport Waikato is creating an Under 5 Energize team who work alongside local early childhood centres to improve nutrition and activity among the children,” says Mr Ryall.
Mr Ryall visited Fairfield Kindergarten in Hamilton today to meet with the Under 5 Energize team and talk to kindergarten teachers and children involved in the project.
“One teacher told me parents have quickly taken to nutrition guidelines developed for the kindergarten, and there has already been a marked difference in the types of food coming in with the kids. Teachers at the school are now making platters with all the fruit coming in for all the kids to enjoy,” says Mr Ryall.
“Many of the Early Childhood Centres have also attended workshops run by the Under 5 Energize team which teach children fundamental motor skills like rolls and twists. These skills give them the confidence to take up a broader range of sports later in life.
“Through the project, Fairfield was able to identify that their children felt restricted by bad weather when wanting to play outside. So the kindergarten has now purchased wet weather gear so in future their children can practice their rolls and balancing when it’s raining,” says Mr Ryall.
The Under 5 Energize programme was introduced as a Ministry of Health-funded extension to the wider Project Energize programme already running in Waikato. It’s part of the government’s ‘Healthy Families NZ’ strategy.
“Studies have shown this programme has produced fitter, healthier kids who weigh less, run faster, and have a better handle on healthy nutrition than the national average,” says Mr Ryall.
“By investing in our kids at this young age, and fostering a sense of healthy nutrition and exercise from the get-go, we encourage a broad range of positive health outcomes for these children that will continue into adulthood,” says Mr Ryall.
Read more on Project Energize
Media contact: Bill de la Mare 021 924 331