Kiwi kids to receive 100,000 pedometers
Tuesday, 24 June
Kiwi kids to receive 100,000 pedometers in Olympic initiative
In what is believed to be the largest physical activity programme ever attempted in New Zealand, this week will see 100,000 free pedometers delivered to Kiwi kids across the country.
Conceived and developed in New Zealand by McDonald’s with the support of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, the My Greatest Feat programme is designed to get kids moving, having fun and learning about New Zealand’s 100 year Olympic history along the way.
More than 85,000 students from 1000 schools have registered for the programme, which starts on Monday, 21 July and runs for the three weeks leading up to the Beijing Olympics.
For the duration of My Greatest Feat, children will count the steps they take every day and track their collective progress online as they make a simulated journey the length of New Zealand. Steps are recorded on the website set up especially for the programme (www.mygreatestfeat.org) which also features video and graphic information about New Zealand and our local Olympic athletes.
My Greatest Feat spokesman, Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter, is championing the programme because he says it is a great opportunity to get kids active and excited about the Olympic Games at the same time.
“My love of sport started at my local school, and I’ve never looked back. Anything that gets kids really excited about being active is just fantastic,” says Carter.
One child registered for the My Greatest Feat programme has also been randomly selected by McDonald's to become New Zealand’s child ambassador at the Beijing Olympics.
Marla Beissel, aged seven, from Palmerston North, will travel with her parents to join child ambassadors from around the world as part of the McDonald’s Champion Kids programme. Among other exciting activities, Marla will get the chance to meet the New Zealand Olympic athletes and deliver good-luck messages from back home.
Marla says she can’t wait to see her Olympic heroes in person.
“My favourite sport is swimming and I've also started playing field hockey this year which is lots of fun! It’s going to be so exciting to go to China and see New Zealand sports stars compete with the world!" she says.
Studies* show that in the primary school age group girls need about 12,000 steps a day, and boys 15,000 steps to stay in the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range. Pedometers have been shown to help by giving children an awareness of their physical activity, demonstrating that every step counts, and making fitness fun.
Trials were conducted in selected Auckland schools to ensure the programme was fun and kept kids interested to carry on walking, moving and counting their steps.
“The kids I talked to during the trial of My Greatest Feat were so into it,” says Carter. “They were all telling me how many steps they had taken, and jumping up and down and running on the spot to get their number of steps up. The kids were super excited about doing exercise, which is just great,” he says.
McDonald’s sees My Greatest Feat as another way it is helping encourage New Zealand children to get active, reflected in its sponsorship of junior soccer and touch rugby, and the company’s 30 year involvement with the Olympic Games.
“This is a great chance to inspire a new generation of Kiwis to achieve their goals and to enjoy getting moving," says Mark Hawthorne, Managing Director of McDonald’s New Zealand. The idea behind My Greatest Feat is that if one child walked the length of the country, it would require over seven million steps.
“Children from around the country will be taking millions of steps as part of My Greatest Feat, and it won’t be long before the combined steps of children, classes and schools travel extraordinary distances. We’re pretty rapt about that,” says Hawthorne.
“I think the sheer number of kids taking part in My Greatest Feat is really something very special. We believe it’s the largest physical activity programme ever undertaken in New Zealand, and for us, it’s another way we are continuing our 18 year support of New Zealand educational and sporting initiatives, such as the Ronald McDonald road safety programme or sponsoring junior sport.”