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Let the Littlies strut their stuff

Media Release


27 January 2003

new school year ...1

Let the Littlies strut their stuff

As families prepare for the new school year the Littlies Lobby is calling on parents of pre-schoolers to let them strut their stuff and not stifle their near-school years.

The Littlies Lobby, announced in December by the Office of the Commissioner for Children and the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, seeks to ensure that all children are safe, healthy and ready to start school by the time they are five years of age.

Plunket's chief executive, Paul Baigent, said parents and caregivers should give young children the opportunity and freedom to exercise and play.

"It is important that children not be stifled. They should be allowed to develop their confidence and independence through exercise and play with their peers and siblings in the backyard, local park or playground.

"Apart from being a healthy activity, the social interaction gained through play is essential in developing confidence, introducing them to regular exercise and fitness and helping young children get ready for the experience of school.

"Children need to reclaim the parks and playgrounds and be able to play safely," said Mr Baigent.

Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay, said children approaching their school years need to feel confident and excited by the prospect of school.

new school year ...2

"They should be able to safely walk to school with their siblings and friends, learning about road safety, and enjoying the exercise and social interaction of being with other youngsters," he said.

Mr McClay quoted the walking school bus 1 as an ideal example of a programme combining some of the key elements in child development.

Young children walk together with a parent supervisor or 'conductor' to ensure the safety of the group en route to school. Last year about 150 walking school bus programmes operated in New Zealand primary schools.

Ends

Information from: The Littlies Lobby

Roger McClay, Commissioner for Children, Phone: 04 471 1410 (bus);

027 457 0886 (mobile), or

Paul Baigent, Chief Executive, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society

Phone: 04 471 0177 (bus); 021 650 954 (mobile)

Issued by: Craig Pollock, General Manager Marketing & Communications

Royal New Zealand Plunket Society. Phone: 04 471 1526 (bus);

025 345 312 (mobile)

1 The Walking School Bus Programme, contact Philip Watson, Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, Phone 0274 780 663 (mobile); 09 916 4646 (bus); or Sue Kendall, Safe Kids, Phone 09 815 2546 or 09 820 1192 (bus); 021 444 756 (mobile)


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