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Project Energize picks up top prize at awards evening

Project Energize has won the 2012 Waikato District Health Board Best of Health Awards.

Project Energize, a collaborative programme run by Sport Waikato and funded by Waikato DHB, has won total prize money of $4500 taking out the overall prize as well as one of the major categories at the awards event.

The Best of Health Awards were first introduced in 2003 to recognise and reward the excellent health initiatives that had taken place across the Waikato.

They were held again in 2004, 2006 and 2008. The aim of the awards is to share valuable health information and showcase best practice.

This year, the awards received 36 entries from throughout the Waikato health sector, including entries from primary care, Waikato District Health Board and non-Government organisations (NGOs).

Some 180 guests gathered at the Wintec House Atrium from 6pm today to attend the awards ceremony, MC’d by TV personality Kay Gregory.

The four category prizes up for grabs were:

  • Innovation – won by Population Health for their project: ‘Opportunities Taken: The need for, and effectiveness of secondary care opportunistic immunisation
  • Patient outcome – won by Sport Waikato for their entry: Project Energize
  • Process improvement – won by Waikato Hospital for their project: The Waikato Hospital delivery and capacity planning project; and
  • Collaboration – won by Midlands Health Network for their project: eReferral best practice generic template roll out to Waikato DHB general practices

A selection of DHB and primary care staff judged each of these, which came with prize money of $1500 each.

The overall prize was worth $3000 and claimed by worthy winner Project Energize.

Judges’ comments about the Project Energize submission:

A key government health target is better diabetes and cardiovascular services, reflecting the known high burden of these conditions.

“Both are intimately related to obesity and paradoxically, the need for this target indicates the need for effective population based obesity prevention.

“ Project Energize is an interesting collaborative project involving Sport Waikato, Waikato DHB, the community, and most importantly, children.

“The project has a great outcome for our future, is very innovative and can be rolled our nationally. Project Energize uses children as teachers, which is fantastic.

“This project has a huge preventative impact and is a project that is truly inclusive of the community and is a critical concept for New Zealand.”
It is primary and intermediate school children in the Waikato DHB region who benefit from Project Energize, which aims to improve nutrition and physical activity levels in those age groups, reduce obesity rates and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

A total of 44,000 primary and intermediate school children are now part of Project Energize through 244 Waikato schools.

Vital to the success of Project Energize are the ‘Energizers’ who work with schools, teachers and parents, giving physical fitness and nutritional advice and helping implement health and fitness programmes.

Research carried out last year by AUT University’s Professor of Nutrition, Elaine Rush, said the change in nutrition and fitness as a result of Project Energize would have significant benefits in the coming decades.

“Within another decade or so these children are going to be parents themselves so if we have achieved changes in attitude to health and fitness, we may achieve real generational change and that is a very exciting prospect.”
Other findings from the 2011 evaluation, which included 5110 6-11-year-olds found:

  • Obesity rates at 3% less than the national average
  • Children weighed less and had a lower body mass index than Waikato children of the same age measured in 2004 and 2006
  • Waist measurements were substantially less than those measured in Waikato children of the same age measured in 2004 and 2006
  • Ran 20 seconds (13%) faster compared to national data gathered for the same age groups between 2001 and 2007

Gordon Chesterman, who was Waikato DHB’s Community and Public Health Advisory Committee chair at the time Project Energize was granted funding, was delighted to hear of the project’s success tonight, “I feel really pleased that as a board we had the vision and foresight to recognise this project was an essential one for the future of Waikato, and hopefully one day, New Zealand children.

“Project Energize’s success at the 2012 Best of Health Awards is fantastic news and a yet another step in the right direction when it comes to investing in our future.”

This is the second good bit of news for Project Energize in recent months, with the initiative also being included in the European Obesity Prevention Network – one of just 20 community based programmes to be included – and have been invited to New York to attend the network’s two-day seminar.

Waikato DHB’s investment in Project Energize since 2004:

  • 2004/05 $845k
  • 2005/06 $858k
  • 2006/07 $933k
  • 2007/08 $955k
  • 2008/09 $1,167k
  • 2009/10 $1,891k
  • 2010/11 $1,891k
  • 2011/12 $1,907k (budget)

Other Project Energize partners include AUT University, University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), Sport and Recreation NZ and the National Health Foundation.

Other projects that received honourable mentions at the awards were:

  • Community pharmacy anticoagulation management service from Pharmacy 547
  • The Waihi Project (family violence) from Population Health, Waikato DHB
  • Waikato virtual lesion clinic from Waikato DHB’s Dermatology Department; and
  • from Waikato Immunisation Stakeholders Group

Message from Health Minister, Tony Ryall

Health Minister Tony Ryall extended his congratulations to all the entrants and the winners.

“What a great occasion being celebrated tonight by our dedicated health professionals in the Waikato DHB area.

“When done well, achievements in health innovation and collaboration, improving patient outcomes and processes, are all very worthy causes for celebration.

“I can see there is fantastic work happening across all areas of the Waikato health sector and I offer particular congratulations and thanks to the 2012 Best of Health Awards category winners and of course, overall winner, Project Energize.

“These sorts of projects showcase the merits of hard work, forward thinking and collaboration between primary care and DHB partners such as Sport Waikato.  I look forward to seeing the benefits further realised and shared beyond your immediate communities,” said Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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