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Getting Young New Zealanders Active

Getting Young New Zealanders Active

Sport and Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard launched the Early Childhood and Physical Activity Reference Group today at Wellington's Te Wharemarie Tamariki Preschool.

"This is an incredibly important initiative. The experiences that our young people have in early childhood play a huge part in the lifestyle they adopt and the choices they make later in life," Trevor Mallard said.

“The Government announced earlier this year that it will invest significant additional funds to lift participation and raise quality in early childhood education. An essential part of early childhood education is human development and how young people learn through movement and being physical active.”

Recent research from Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) shows a dip in the number of young people getting regular physical activity (from 69 per cent to 66 per cent), which is consistent with studies that suggest physical activity is declining and obesity is increasing.

“This is the first time that we have addressed the issue of physical activity in our under-fives. We need to create an environment where our youngest New Zealanders have fun being physically active and set them on the path to a healthy active lifestyle throughout their life,” Trevor Mallard said.

The reference group aims to develop draft guidelines for physical activity by the end of the year.

As well as working with the early childhood education sector, one of the reference group's key audiences will be caregivers, as they have the biggest influence on under-fives.

"It is important that we work to raise caregivers' awareness of the benefits of physical activity for young people and provide them with opportunities and tools to make it happen," Trevor Mallard said.

The primary role of the reference group will be to assist the development of effective leadership and support on a national and regional level in order to: Promote the importance of activity and movement for young children to develop active lifestyle habits; Facilitate and coordinate a cross sector approach to information sharing, research and quality physical activity programme delivery; Develop guidelines for physical activity from birth to five years, which provide a strong foundation for school-based programmes; and Develop and coordinate a professional development and training framework building on existing infrastructure, initiatives and programmes.

The reference group is made up of representatives from the early childhood and physical activity sector, including the Ministries of Education and Health, Plunket, the Heart Foundation, te Kohanga Reo, Gymnastics New Zealand and the New Zealand Kindergarten Association.

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