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Activity programme for pre-schoolers

June 14 2005

Activity programme for pre-schoolers goes into high gear

Natalia Sampson is involved in Active Movement activities at Albany Kindercare.

Play time will take on a whole new meaning for pre-schoolers in North Harbour, Waitakere and Bay of Plenty when an innovative initiative, designed to get the smallest youngsters active and moving, is launched in July.

Active Movement / Koringa Hihiko – a recent Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) initiative – will be run by the three Regional Sports Trusts in their respective areas covering North Shore, Rodney, Waitakere and the Bay of Plenty.

The trusts were recently notified they had each won a highly sought-after contract to encourage children from birth to five years to be more active than previous generations of pre-schoolers to enable them to form habits that will carry through to adulthood.

Harbour Sport Chief Executive Sarah Dunning says it is ‘great news’ for pre-schoolers and their parents in the three regions.

She says Active Movement offers the vital first steps in a lifelong approach to physical activity that impacts positively on a child’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual development.

“With the help of parents, caregivers, educators and organisations involved in pre-schoolers’ wellbeing, Active Movement will really boost our under-fives’ enjoyment of physical activity as well as their physical abilities and self-confidence.

“There is now strong evidence that regular physical activity in early years has a significant impact later in life. Active pre-schoolers, for example, are often more socially and emotionally developed and, as a consequence, are likely to have greater ability later in life in areas such as literacy, health, fitness, memory, maths, spatial ability and rhythm.”

Operating under the umbrella of SPARC’s Push Play programme, Active Movement is designed to help reverse the trends of declining physical activity and increasing obesity in children.

During the past nine months while Active Movement was introduced in six other regions throughout the country – including in Auckland and Counties - Harbour Sport began running workshops for preschool teachers and parents on developing fundamental skills for the under-fives.

“It was a good start to helping our 0-5s, but now we have the resources to do so much more. We are getting ready to recruit an Active Movement Advisor to oversee the programme - someone with experience of under-fives and who is experienced in and has a passion for training in the physical activity sector.”

To get the message out to under-fives’ parents, Harbour Sport, Sport Waitakere and Sport Bay of Plenty plan to work alongside organisations such as their local district health boards and councils, Plunket, Parents Centre, Parents as First Teachers, kohanga reos, kindergartens, playcentres, daycare centres, primary health organisations, doctors, pre-school activity programmes, and safety organisations such as ACC.

Soon, every parent who has a baby at North Shore Hospital, Waitakere Hospital and the Warkworth Birthing Centre will receive Active Movement information before taking their baby home.

A series of 14 brochures has been designed by SPARC to assist in taking the Active Movement messages to the community.

Active Movement was developed by SPARC with the assistance of the Ministries of Health and Education, Plunket, the National Heart Foundation, the Cancer Society, NZ Gymnastics, parents, educators and sport and recreation organisations.

For more information about the Active Movement programme contact Harbour Sport or telephone 0800 ACTIVE (228 483).

ENDS

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