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Kiwi kids encouraged to "move it with Mervyn"

19 December 2006 Media Statement

Kiwi kids encouraged to "move it with Mervyn"


Minister for Sport and Recreation Trevor Mallard today launched a six-week programme to encourage primary school age children to "move it with Mervyn" by spending less time in front of computers and televisions and more time getting active.

Trevor Mallard was joined at Arakura School in Wainuiomata, by an energetic new character called Mervyn, as well as other celebrities including rugby and league players Johnny Lomax and Earl Va'a. Over the next six weeks, Mervyn, also known as media personality Nathan Rarere, will promote free activity cards with ideas kids can try over the school holidays instead of playing on the computer or watching television.

A recent New Zealand study linked television time with an increasing number of overweight children in New Zealand. Many other studies world-wide link time in front of computers and television with children’s poor learning, concentration and development; and research suggests that children should have access to no more than two hours of ‘screen-time’ per day.

"Mervyn will also have his own television commercial throughout the summer, showing everyone how to do fun things with family, friends, or on your own," said Trevor Mallard.

"Outside activities like elastics, hacky sack, scavenger hunts and skipping are great ways to spend the holidays with family or friends, as well as keeping everyone active and healthy.

"I’m sad to say we’re seeing increasingly sedentary lifestyles and declining levels of physical activity amongst young people; something that is affecting the health and prosperity of our children and the future of New Zealand.

"Moving it with Mervyn is one of ten initiatives that are part of the Labour-led government's $67 million programme Mission-On, which aims to improve the lifestyles of young New Zealanders through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.

"Mission-On aims to build on the ‘Kiwi lifestyle’ in a way that excites and involves children, young people and their families. In doing so the government hopes to achieve its vision for New Zealand - a vision of strong family units, healthy confident kids and better health for all."

Examples of other Mission-On initiatives include a ‘lifestyle ambassadors campaign’, working with the advertising industry to decrease children’s exposure to the promotion of less healthy foods, and changes to the food and beverage provision in schools. These initiatives will be rolled out over the next four years.

Mervyn's activity cards are available at the counters, free of charge, at Countdown supermarkets and participating sports stores - Stirling Sports, Rebel Sport, Sportspower and Sportsworld. They can also be downloaded from Sport and Recreation New Zealand’s website www.sparc.org.nz.

"With this being the last week of school for the year, I encourage you all to enjoy your summer holiday outdoors with friends and family, having fun, getting active and keeping healthy by moving it with Mervyn," Trevor Mallard said.

The television and computer free campaign will be further developed over 2007 to target other age groups.

For further information on Mission-On please visit www.sparc.org.nz.


Ends

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