Parents are key influence in their children’s health
AIA New Zealand Media Release: 28 September 2016
Gemma Flynn: Parents are key influence in their children’s health and wellbeing
Black Sticks player Gemma Flynn is leading a classroom-based health and wellbeing programme to inspire children to get active.
The programme, called the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge, has experienced an overwhelming response. Registrations exceeded the 15,000 targetwithin two weeks of the programme’s launch.
Launched by AIA New Zealand on 18 August, the programme is also being supported by international rugby winger Cory Jane.
“I’m pleased to be a part of the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge. It’s a wonderful initiative that brings people together and encourages quality family time. It provides a fun way for families to be active together and, importantly, it sets manageable goals,” says Gemma.
AIA New Zealand Head of Marketing and Communications, David Savidan, says: “We’re delighted at the phenomenal response the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge has generated. It really highlights the relevance of health and wellbeing education programmes in schools, and we’re excited to have Gemma Flynn’s support to reinforce these important messages to children and their parents.”
Gemma says that parents face a myriad of challenges when it comes to growing healthy, happy, resilient children today.
“People’s lives are busier than ever, there are multiple distractions and it’s often a struggle to get the ‘eat, move, sleep’ balance right. It helps to have good tools and information,” says Gemma.
When it comes to health and wellbeing, Gemma says there is a lot of ‘noise’ to filter out to get the best advice. The Ministry of Health is a good example with its useful tips on healthy living.
Importantly, Gemma recommends families find what works for them. “No one rule applies to everyone. Plan your time and prioritise what’s important. Set realistic goals and make slight adjustments to what you do over time. And make it fun.”
Gemma has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science from Massey University and runs her own health and wellness business. Working with individuals and groups, including children, Gemma challenges people to be the best they can be. The aim is to help open people’s eyes to the benefits of exercise, nutrition and balance to live a happier and healthier life. Part of the focus is working with schools to equip staff and students with the tools and skills needed to be the best they can be.
“Healthy body, healthy mind, it’s a cliché, but it’s true,” says Gemma. “Establishing a positive relationship with food and an understanding of the importance of being active will set children on the right path. Importantly, it also helps to develop good self-esteem and resilience.”
Good habits and behaviours are instilled from an early age so Gemma encourages parents to lead by example.
Gemma, who has two older brothers, credits her parents with their healthy approach to exercise and eating. “We enjoyed a lot of typical Kiwi family activities when I was growing up: bike riding, swimming at the beach, walking our dogs. And at sport, my parents were always there on the sidelines to support me and my brothers.”
“My parents also inspired in us a healthy relationship with food. We always ate breakfast; we sat down at the table to eat dinner together every night; and we approached treats as just that, treats.”
Digital devices are often cited as a barrier to healthy living. Gemma says we need to accept that technology is here to stay and recognise the potential to harness it to motivate and engage people in a healthy lifestyle.
Gemma says the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge is a good example of this. The health and wellbeing initiative cleverly combines technology and leading New Zealand athletes to inspire, motivate and educate primary school children and their parents to lead healthier lives.
As part of the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge, each child receives a free pedometer to count the number of steps they take every day; each child also gets to create their own unique avatar. The programme records each class’s daily average steps, giving them the opportunity to win prizes, including AIA sports grants and Huawei Tablets for their school.
The children’s journey will be captured in a virtual online world showing the progress of their avatars as they work together to unlock new destinations. As children complete each leg, they’re shown an animated video of their avatar exploring each new place with Gemma and Cory, and other New Zealand sporting stars. They learn about the history and culture of the countries they ‘visit’, and get health tips on the way around.
Gemma encourages parents to get involved in the AIA Healthy Kids Challenge and get active as a family.
While class registrations for kids have now been closed for this year’s AIA Healthy Kids Challenge due to the overwhelming response from teachers, there are still plenty of free places available for parents, friends and family members to join the Challenge.
Parents, friends and family can use the website or download the challenge app to track their own steps. The more adults each participating class has involved, the more chances the class and school have to win great prizes, and there are opportunities for parents who get involved to win prizes too.
And anyone can support their local primary school and help them to win prizes. It’s easy to participate and have fun getting active in the lead up to summer.
Simply visit www.healthykids.kiwi to register. The 2016 programme gets underway on 26 October 2016.