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New kids website to push play and eat well message

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Sport and Recreation

19 February 2008 Media Statement

New kids’ website to push play and eat well message


A colourful new interactive, and fun website, geared at encouraging kids into exercise and healthy eating habits, was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove today.

Children from Holy Cross School in Miramar, Wellington, showed off their skills navigating both the new Mission On website (www.mission-on.co.nz), and in some of the fun physical activities, the website promotes, as part of the official launch.

“The Mission-On website is a fantastic way to keep kids and their families engaged, and motivated to set goals and make good choices towards healthy lifestyles,” Helen Clark said.

“The website we have launched today is aimed at five to twelve year olds. It looks bright, fun, and easy to navigate. At the same time it carries some very important messages for young kids, highlighting the importance of nutrition and fuelling our bodies with healthy food, as well as exciting ideas about ways to get active at home and outdoors.

“Today’s launch is another facet of the Labour-led Government’s continued commitment to provide the best possible educational opportunity for all our children and young people.

“That is why we introduced 20 Free Hours ECE for three and four year olds and the B4 school checks which by next year, will ensure all five year olds have been assessed to ensure there are no hearing, eyesight or other problems that might impact on their learning.

“These programmes, and the Mission On website, help to give our young children the best possible start through school, while our policy of having all young people in education, training, or some other form of structured learning until they are eighteen, ensures that they too get the best start to the next phase of their lives, whether it is in the workforce or continued education,” Helen Clark said.


“A key feature of the website is that it allows children to set goals and record their progress by earning points that can be redeemed in a virtual rewards shop.

“This website is all about helping children make good choices, set goals and have a go. We are using modern technology that today’s kids are very familiar with to help them live the great Kiwi lifestyle that past generations have enjoyed and thrived on.

“This is about getting an important message to young people, in a way that they’ll actually take notice of it. This is a fun and entertaining way to show them how they can make positive choices in their lives,” Helen Clark said.

Mr Cosgrove said the online environment is an excellent way to reach young people, as many are regular Internet users at home, at school or in their communities.

“Characters on the site encourage the audience to take what they learn on the site ‘offline’ to the real world. Children are not only inspired to complete ‘offline’ activities, they are also rewarded on the site if they do so.”

The website includes a number of features to motivate children including the ability to personalise their own page and character, earn points and win prizes, receive virtual medals for mastering new skills and to post pictures and videos showing how they have put what they learnt online into practice in their day-to-day lives.

The website is one of a package of Mission-On initiatives launched in September 2006 which aims to improve the lifestyles of young New Zealanders through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.


ENDS


Note: Background information attached


Background Information


What is Mission-On?
Mission-On is a package of initiatives launched in 2006, aimed at encouraging children and young people to lead a healthy lifestyle through improving their nutrition and increasing physical activity.

How does this website fit into Mission-On?
This website (www.mission-on.co.nz) is the first of a number of planned Mission-On initiatives using interactive and dynamic technology to promote healthy lifestyles to children and young people. The projects are being developed to ‘push kids’ buttons’ to encourage active learning (through fun) about healthy nutrition choices, physical activities and related healthy lifestyles.

What is on this website?
The site combines a mixture of visually stimulating and interactive elements, including the ability to:
- create your own character;
- play games and participate in activities;
- set and achieve goals;
- earn points and win prizes by doing ‘offline’ activities;
- make friends and send messages;
- receive medals for mastering new skills;
- keep your favourite activities in one place; and
- see what fun things other children have done.

Is a website an effective way to encourage children to engage in physical activity and eat healthy food?
Yes, a large and increasing number of households in New Zealand have access to the Internet, so online channels are a good way to reach them with messages about being active and eating healthy food. The website consistently encourages the audience to take what they learn on the site, ‘offline’ to the real world, and they are rewarded with points on the site if they do so.

Can children stay on the website for hours on end?
Physical activity guidelines recommend that children and young people spend less than 2 hours a day (out of school time) in front of a screen. The characters on the website will encourage children to do activities ‘offline’ in the real world.

How can children that don’t have access to broadband at home use the website?
Schools and public libraries are alternative places where children can access the website if they do not have access to broadband at home. We will be communicating with teachers and librarians to encourage them to endorse the website.

For Internet users with a dial up connection an HTML ‘brochure’ has also been developed as part of www.mission-on.co.nz. This ‘brochure’ provides details about the main site, and wherever possible, it replicates content in an accessible format.

How will you ensure this website is effective? What evidence is there this website will work?
There are international examples of successful interactive youth websites, e.g. the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 9-13 year olds website http://www.bam.gov/.
Considerable research was undertaken before developing the website, including studying websites developed in New Zealand and overseas. Children and their parents gave feedback during the different phases of the site’s development.
The website’s ongoing usage will be monitored, and it can be refined and adapted if necessary.

How can you ensure the safety and security of children using the website?
Child safety and security is paramount, and measures have been in place to ensure this. These include a registration process, and all user generated messages and content being approved by a moderator. The site also has its own navigation system so normal browser functions are not visible within the site. The site does not link to other websites reducing the chances of children ‘clicking’ to unsuitable material.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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