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New resources to get under fives more active

21 March 2005
Media Statement

New resources to get under fives more active

Sports & Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard today launched a series of new resources that aim to get more young children more active.

The resources, launched at Hataitai Kindergarten, are part of the Active Movement initiative, which provides educators and parents with a range of physical activity options designed for under fives.

"Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health show that nearly one third of New Zealand children are overweight and one in 10 considered obese - a major factor in this is sedentary lifestyles. We want to combat this and make sure young kids are getting active, and living healthily - this includes eating healthily," Trevor Mallard said.

"We also know that brain and body development are affected strongly by early childhood experiences of physical movement.

"As well as physical skills like eye, hand and foot coordination, physical movement impacts on children’s cognitive abilities, the development of the senses, problem solving and spatial awareness.

"This resource is an invaluable tool for early childhood educators and parents who want to ensure their children enjoy a quality movement experience.

"It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure Kiwi kids develop the confidence and competence to move, play and be active throughout their lives. This resource will play a big part in helping kids reach their potential."

Supported by Plunket, the Cancer Society, NZ Gymnastics and the National Heart Foundation, the SPARC resource recommends appropriate ways to incorporate physical activity into young children’s lives.

The resource was developed in consultation with parents, educators, Plunket, the National Heart Foundation, Te Kohanga Reo, the Ministries of Health and Education and the sport and recreation sector.

Copies of the resources are available from Regional Sports Trusts by telephoning 0800 ACTIVE. A fact sheet detailing the initiative is attached.

Fact Sheet - Active Movement

Promoting quality movement and physical activity experiences for children under five

Active movement is engaging in quality physical activity experiences that develop and enhance the spiritual, emotional, social, cognitive and physiological growth of a child. Active Movement embodies the whole child.

- Positive and appropriate early movement experiences impact on the way infants, toddlers and young children learn, grow and participate in physical activity over the lifespan.

- The Early Childhood and Physical Activity Reference Group developed the new term Active Movement to encompass the unique benefits of movement in the early years of life.

- Opportunities for Active Movement for all children are essential for brain development. Active Movement strengthens the connections within the brain and body and the development of these connections are vital for memory, sensory development, communication between the two sides of the brain and this provides the foundation for all higher-level movement.

- As well as physical skills like eye, hand and foot coordination, physical movement impacts on children’s cognitive abilities, the development of the senses, problem solving and spatial awareness.

- The initiative is founded on the work of the Early Childhood and Physical Activity Reference Group launched in July 2003. The Group developed national physical activity recommendations (guidelines) for children under five.

- The Active Movement/Koringa Hihiko recommendations were designed to raise awareness and educate New Zealanders about the importance of movement in the early years of life. They explore the role that movement plays in human development and show how Active Movement is essential for helping children reach their potential.

- The Active Movement initiative will concentrate on building community capability through public education, awareness raising and the provision of quality training and resources.

- The initiative will be implemented regionally through a network of regionally based coordinators.

- Active Movement Regional Co-ordinator positions will play an integral role in implementing the recommendations and supporting the Active Movement philosophy in priority regions.

- These positions will play a major role in developing community and cross-sector capability by establishing networks for communicating information and promoting Active Movement. Initially these roles will focus on the parents and caregiver, education and community planning sectors.

Objectives

The overall outcomes of the Active Movement initiative are to:

- raise participation levels of children under five in quality movement experiences;

- raise quality active movement opportunities; and

- educate the general public on the importance of movement in early childhood settings.

The regional positions will be responsible for:

- increasing opportunities for quality active movement experiences;

- increasing participation in active movement and physical activity;

- increasing community awareness and participation;

- increasing coordination of community resources and collaborative initiatives to support early childhood participation;

- enhanced sustainability (process and policy change)

- enhanced awareness relating to local planning and processes;

- increasing access to and quality of teacher training and professional development; and

- increasing family participation in Push Play events and participation initiatives.

The government, through SPARC, has committed $3.4 million over three years to the Active Movement initiative. The funding will go towards professional development across the sector, the regional coordinators and the resources and tools provided.

SPARC will provide comprehensive professional development and training to the Active Movement coordinators across New Zealand. Information brochures and translations of the Active Movement booklet have been available since December 2004.

Currently the Active Movement book can be downloaded from: http://www.sparc.org.nz/publications/

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