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Christchurch schools chosen for health promotion

Friday 29 June 2007

Christchurch’s St James School chosen for launch of nationwide health promotion programme

St James School in Aranui Christchurch will be a mass of fun activities today, with hip hop dance, a street artist painting and the Minister of Health acting as “sous chef” in a cooking demonstration.

It’s all part of Mission-On – a package of ten initiatives aimed at improving the lifestyle of young New Zealanders, by targeting improved nutrition and increased physical activity.

St James was chosen for the launch of the initiative, Student Health Promotion, for their achievements in creating a healthy food environment and delivering healthy eating messages to their students, parents, whānau and the whole school community.

The students have even put together a DVD of a series of advertisements about healthy eating, and excerpts of these will be shown at the launch.

The principal of St James School, Jo Barlow says “As part of the Health and Physical Education Well-being Curriculum, all schools cover Nutrition. As a Fruit in Schools school, we have decided to use a whole school approach to focus on our community. Our school Motto is “Not Just a School, But a Family”. We see it as our responsibility to support the families and children so that messages we give are consistent.”

St James is a multi-cultural school incorporating Samoan, Māori, Tongan and NZ European ethnic groups. The Minister of Health, the Hon Pete Hodgson, who is attending the June 29 launch, will be welcomed by the entire school in Maori and Samoan followed by a Samoan dance and hongi.

Ms Barlow says “We know healthy children learn better. We have enjoyed the support of the ‘Fruit in Schools’ co-ordinator at Community Public Health, the Sports Trust, the Cancer Society, the National Heart Foundation and the opportunity to work with cluster schools.”

Healthy Eating - Healthy Action is the Government's overarching strategy to improve nutrition, increase physical activity and reduce obesity. Children and young people are a priority group for this strategy. Mission-On is a high profile government package of initiatives targeting 0-24 year olds. Its focus is to improve nutrition and physical activity by giving New Zealand's children and young people, and their families, the tools to become healthier so they can lead active and successful lives.

The launch will feature entertaining activities for the students, including cooking demonstrations with the Minister interacting with the chef and students, educational and fun games and a range of physical activities. A hip hop group will take the students through some high impact dance routines at an activity station, and will also give a 10-minute performance to close the event.

Students will be given Mission-On branded merchandise and clothing as giveaways and prizes.

The launch will mark the start of a six month series of events in primary, intermediate and secondary schools across the nation.

Outcomes sought from the Mission-On campaign are improved health, educational achievements and a valued ‘Kiwi lifestyle’. The events will showcase students’ good work to their communities, and congratulate schools that prioritise healthy lifestyle messages and activities, with the aim of encouraging other schools too.

By engaging students in these events, a sense of shared responsibility and ownership is more likely to develop. Evidence suggests that although most young people know about basic food groups and what foods are healthy, many do not consider the long-term impact of poor nutrition decisions and change their behaviours accordingly.

Information will be shared with schools about the health promoting story of participating schools – what they did, how they did it, challenges and achievements. The aim is to encourage all schools to consider where they are at with health promotion, and how to look at next steps for their own school.


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