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Celebrity cooking competition in Waikato

Media Release

September 15, 2008

Celebrity cooking competition launches healthy lifestyle programmes

Olympic rowers Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh of Rowing New Zealand competed in a cooking competition recently to help launch two new healthy lifestyle programmes 'Get Cooking' and 'Community Health Coaches (CHC)'.

The programmes are run by Waikato Primary Health to help improve the nutritional and lifestyle behaviours of Waikato residents.

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.

Drysdale and Haigh and health coaches were part of two competing teams Top Tomatoes versus Shiny Sprouts who had 20 minutes to cook a tasty meal from scratch. The meals were based on healthy recipes in the Get Cooking manual and competitors could choose to cook oatmeal pancakes, fruit pikelets or omelette. Once cooking was completed the audience tasted the meals to determine a winning team which was Drysdale's Top Tomatoes.

"The programmes were well received with over 20 people interested in finding out more about becoming a volunteer," says Martin.

Close to 100 people attended the event where they listened to the rowing stars talk about healthy eating and watched them put the Get Cooking workshop in to action. CHC Coordinators were available for questions and visitors took part in line dancing and Get Walking also part of the healthy lifestyle programme being offered. Visitors also saw the first 'Kitchen in a Box' on display.

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 within 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.

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.


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