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SPARC Education zero in on children’s wellbeing

Health, SPARC and Education zero in on children’s wellbeing

Encouraging children to make healthy choices about what they eat and to be more active is the target of a memorandum of understanding jointly signed today by the Ministries of Education and Health and Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC).

The Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding: Towards Improving the Wellbeing of New Zealand Children was signed by Dr Karen Poutasi, Director General of Health, Ministry of Health; Nicholas Hill, Chief Executive SPARC; and Howard Fancy, Secretary for Education, Ministry of Education.

The three organisations see today’s signing as of way of strengthening the work they are already doing together to improve student’s wellbeing/hauora, and particularly in the areas of nutrition and physical activity.

Representatives plan to meet monthly to progress ways the three organisations will work together. They will also ask the cooperation of other government agencies, as well as schools and their communities to implement an effective annual programme of activities.

Director General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi said the memorandum would assist in the implementation of the Healthy Eating-Healthy Action Strategy which tackles nutrition, physical activity and obesity.

"The health problems resulting from poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity include diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer," she said.

“The strategy identifies children and young people as a priority group and schools and early childhood centres as a key setting to work in.”

SPARC Chief Executive Nicholas Hill said SPARC’s focus over the next year will increasingly be on school children and their physical activity.

“Next year is the international year for sport and physical education,” he said.

“Our work in education settings will be greatly strengthened by the memorandum leading to more and improved physical activity opportunities for our children.”

Secretary for Education Howard Fancy said the memorandum is a way for the three organisations to work effectively together and look for win/win opportunities.

“By working together we can each contribute to each others objectives while also meeting those that are central to our own agency,” Howard Fancy said.

“Physical activity helps to support learning through its contribution to healthy living and a student’s sense of wellbeing.

“Physical activity and food and nutrition education are important elements of the health and physical education curriculum. They are integral to a students learning programme with links across the curriculum to skills and concepts in maths and social studies for example.”

Health Minister Annette King and Education and Sport and Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard jointly support the tripartite memorandum as a way for the three organisations to formalise their collaborative approach to improve young people’s wellbeing.

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