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Zespri Young And Healthy Virtual Adventure Celebrates Successful Year, Inspiring Over 20,000 Children Across Aotearoa

The Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure has wrapped up another remarkable year, engaging and motivating over 20,000 children from more than 250 schools and 700 classes across Aotearoa. Designed to promote healthy habits and encourage physical activity, there has been exceptional participation and support, making a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of tamariki.

Young and Healthy Trust founder, Kim Harvey says, “We know that we are facing an inactivity crisis that is having a negative impact on the health of our body and brain, so to help instill these simple, yet essential habits at an early age is vital for optimising wellbeing.” Science suggests that by the age of 10* we have largely “drawn the blueprint for their adult lives. Preferences and motivation for activity or anything else, are developed during this important stage. Kids who learn to love being active are more likely to grow up to be adults who are active.” This is why the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure is so important and the fun and entertaining approach helps all children engage over several weeks, encouraging habit formation.

The Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure aims to reach all tamariki, but particularly those who don’t express much interest in physical education or sport.

The positive impact on student behavior at school during the adventure further emphasizes the importance of physical activity on mental health and mood. Teachers observed an improvement in students' mood, communication skills, and overall positivity towards their peers.

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The programme’s overall impact has been tremendous, with notable improvements in participant behavior and habits:

  • 91% of children became more active throughout the duration of the programme,
  • 83% increased their water intake,
  • 84% incorporated more fruits and vegetables into their day,
  • 69% reduced consumption of "sometimes" foods (ultra-processed snack foods),
  • 53% reported improved sleep,
  • 71% displayed reduced device usage.

Kim Harvey adds, “This year the event was in a winter term when we know greyer days can affect our mood and sleep. Being active has such a positive impact but is less appealing when it’s colder, especially outside where nature is also incredibly uplifting. So we focused on ‘Moving in Nature,’ which not only helped promote their physical, mental and emotional health, it also encouraged tamariki to explore the great outdoors, with many creating new games, scavenger hunts, and venturing out to new areas with their whānau.”

Throughout the adventure, we visited schools from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, giving out over $50,000 worth of ASICS sports shoes to help growing feet to be well supported to move more often and we have been inspired by our tamariki expressing the love of the feeling of being active - particularly those who are less inclined to participate in sport or PE - and caring for the health of their body and brain.

The ripple effect of children's participation in the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure extends beyond the programme itself, impacting families in profound ways. Whānau have reported engaging in deep discussions triggered by their experience, and students have shared stories of going on evening walks with their entire family, creating a new sense of togetherness and shared commitment to health.

To deliver the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure, the Young and Healthy Trust is privileged to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations who share the same kaupapa. The support of Zespri International, ASICS NZ, Opal, and Tu Manawa via Sport Waikato and Sport Hawkes Bay, removes the barrier of cost for schools to participate.

The Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure team has exciting plans for 2024 already! Early bird registrations are open now at www.youngandhealthy.org.nz. For more information and updates, follow Young and Healthy on social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Feedback from teachers around the country:

“The students loved entering their data and actively collected their steps. They could make connections between their activities and their improved mood and well-being.” Lynda Duncan, Victory Primary School, Nelson

“Students who didn't enjoy participating in physical education were more inclined to try a different sport and give things a go! Which was awesome! – teacher Migi, Auckland

“Prior to engaging with the programme we were not using mindfulness or exercise breaks regularly so we now make a point of it and the evidence is there, that we are more engaged in learning if we do these more often. Our Turanga Tiaki remind each other to drink more water and check to see if their peers are eating healthy, so they are now leading their own health regime”. Teacher Tanya, Makauri School, Gisborne

Teacher Laura Erskine from Arthur Miller School in Napier says, “It was a great excuse to encourage students to be moving outside - having this encouraged through the online portal reminded them how cool nature is and they became more appreciative and interested.”

“Students were happier and able to communicate better - getting along with others they wouldn't normally play with and being more helpful and empathetic. Overall they were just more happy and friendly” - teacher Malia, Auckland

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