Project Energize kicks off in Waipa
Olympic cyclist Tim Gudsell encouraged St Patrick’s pupils to ‘fuel their body, so they can go fast!’ at the local launch of ‘Project Energize’.
The project aims to improve the overall health of thousands of Waikato primary pupils by increasing their activity levels and improving their nutrition.
St Patrick’s students were the first Waipa children to have their lifestyle ‘energized’ by the Sport Waikato team at a fun launch staged on Tuesday.
The project is the first of its kind in the country and aims to combat a number of health problems in children.
After a breakfast of cereal, fruit and French toast, St Patrick’s pupils had plenty of energy and enthusiasm to tackle the activities staged for the Project Energize launch. A cycling course was set up by Olympic cyclists Tim Gudsell and Peter Latham, aerobics was led by bodybuilder Sue Biggar, swimming lessons were given by former Te Awamutu resident Richard Sutton (who is now a swim coach in Hamilton), while games and activities were carried out with the Sport Waikato team.
Project Energize is a two year project funded by Health Waikato and also has a research component to analyse its effectiveness. To provide baseline data 3000 five and 10 year old children have been weighed and measured. A ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture can then be compiled at the end of the two years.
The research component is supported by Meadowfresh, which is also providing cartons of milk to some low decile schools.
The Project Energize staff members responsible for the 17 Waipa schools taking part will be closely involved with the programme and will help with professional development, as well as assisting with policies and sourcing of healthy food options.
Janine Gilmore is the staff member associated with St Patrick’s school. She says the programme provides plenty of benefits for children. “There is evidence that physically healthy children are more likely to have increased self esteem, better co-ordination, improved concentration in class, positive behaviour, improved memory and a healthier lifestyle.”
As well as encouraging more physical activity and healthier food choices at school, the project will also encourage children to extend their physical activity to include some ‘home play’, replacing a few minutes of inactive home time (such as watching TV) with a fun activity or physical game.
Other local schools scheduled to have the Project Energize roadshow launch this week were Wharepapa South, Paterangi, Te Awamutu Primary and Kihikihi. Pokuru, Hauturu, Bethel, Pekerau and Ohaupo will also be some of the 65 schools throughout the Waikato region that will be involved with Project Energize.