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Learning to Cook Could Save Your Life

Media Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 29, 2008

Learning to Cook Could Save Your Life

Two new healthy lifestyle programmes 'Get Cooking' and 'Community Health Coaches (CHC)' are being launched by Waikato Primary Health to help improve the nutritional and lifestyle behaviours of Waikato residents.

The launch will be held at 10am on Wednesday 10 September at Kakariki House, 293 Grey Street, Hamilton East.

The event will provide an opportunity to see a Get Cooking workshop in action, meet CHC Coordinators, and take part in line dancing or Get Walking led by the first group of volunteer health coaches. As well, visitors will see the first 'Kitchen in a Box' on display and information will be provided on how communities can get involved.

Nicki Martin, Health Improvement Manager for Waikato Primary Health says the CHC and Get Cooking programmes are literally taking health into the community with the help of trained volunteers.

"Volunteer health coaches are trained to become Get Cooking or Get Walking Leaders so they can pass on their skills and knowledge within their own communities. The Get Cooking programme is a community based food project that aims to get 'back to basics' and teach people the skills of cooking healthily and on a budget," says Martin.

Get Cooking is delivered over six practical workshops with each session packed with healthy lifestyle information, fun activities and hands on cooking.

"Participants who get the bug can be trained as a Get Cooking Leader and are supported to deliver the programme to their own community. The same approach is being taken with Get Walking and Get Gardening activities. We're offering communities fun and new ways to be health volunteers in their own community with the support of CHC Coordinators," says Martin.

Get Cooking Leaders are provided with a comprehensive training manual filled with healthy recipes, health information and resources to use. CHC Coordinators are also using the, 'Kitchen in a Box' project to support them with delivering Get Cooking in all community based venues.

Martin says the box, which costs less than $200, contains everything needed to cook successfully and can be taken wherever the coach needs to go – into people's homes, maraes, or community centres – basically wherever there is a stove.

The 'Kitchen in a Box' contains a range of essential cooking tools such as cutlery, cooking knives, mixing bowls, fry pan, can opener, measuring jug, roasting dish, muffin tray, chopping mats, grater, freezer bags, scrubbing brush, table cloths and tea towels, a variety of pots and other utensils.

CHC Coordinator Irene Ground is responsible for running a variety of the innovative programmes in the small community of Kihikihi. She says the response to all of the 'Gets' programmes are met with enthusiasm.

"The Get Cooking programme is fun and relaxing to teach. I've met with women at the Maori Women's Welfare League where we exchanged stories and cooking ideas. It's easy to assume everyone knows how to cook a recipe, like a healthy tuna pasta bake or healthy apple crumble, until a programme like this comes along and gets everyone thinking and talking," says Ground.

"For lunch the other day we made a fruit platter with yoghurt dip, coleslaw, stuffed eggs, and healthy homemade garlic bread. By purchasing the garlic bread roll and spreading it with our own garlic and margarine we saved $3, compared to the pre-packaged supermarket variety. Plus our garlic bread went a lot further."

Nicki Martin says the programme stems from identifying a need for more sustainable healthy lifestyle activities to be delivered in local communities.

"We want to recruit, train and retain local volunteers within our community to both promote and deliver the service. We are doing this through training community health coaches who can go on and establish new activities within their community," says Martin.

Unique to the programme is the added bonus of hours worked by volunteers that can be 'cashed' into healthy rewards like a voucher to visit the GP for free, voucher for free prescription charges, training shoes, or healthy food. All volunteers are supported by the CHC Coordinator.

The CHC programme is based across seven sites in the Waikato – Kihikihi, Huntly, Hamilton, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, Tokoroa and Paeroa. The programme is run jointly with local community based organisations in those areas and is supported by staff at Waikato Primary Health.

ENDS


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