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$1.1 million giving young families a healthy start

The Government is investing $1.1 million in a nutrition and activity programme for pre-schoolers and their families in parts of the Waikato.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says this is the first in a number of announcements the Government plans about new investments in giving families a healthy start.

“The Government is extending ‘Project Energize’ to preschoolers in four parts of the Waikato. ‘Project Energize’ is a Waikato DHB funded health and fitness project covering 44,000 children in Waikato primary schools, and is managed by Sport Waikato.

“Emerging evidence is that ‘Project Energize’ is producing fitter, healthier kids who weigh less, run faster and have a better handle on healthy nutrition than the national average,” Mr Ryall says.

“The new ‘Under 5 Energize’ project will support good nutrition and the development of fundamental movement skills for around 5,000 under five year olds in parts of the Waikato.

Funding for ‘Under 5 Energize’ is from within the Ministry of Health’s existing budget. The $1.1 million announced is initially over two years and the project will be fully evaluated for potential further roll out.

“Sport Waikato is to manage the project and work alongside up to 128 early childhood centres, kohanga, kindergartens and community services in four Waikato areas;

Huntly and surrounding area (Ngaruawahia, Te Kauwhata, Raglan),
South Waikato (Tokoroa, Putaruru, Tirau),
Thames/Hauraki (Thames, Waihi, Ngatea, Paeroa) and
Hamilton – Waikato Kindergarten Association centres (Hamilton, Cambridge, Raglan, Ngaruawahia)

“Four ‘Energizers’ – nutrition and physical development experts – will work with the centres to train and mentor staff and also encourage parents to be involved in healthy eating and activity through education workshops.

“They’ll support centre staff to develop individual healthy eating and physical activity plans for their children – and to engage families as well.

“We know a poor start in life plays a major role in the later development of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, so the National Government aims to support families earlier to be healthy,” Mr Ryall says.

The Government continues to invest around $60 million a year across a range of initiatives in the areas of nutrition and physical activity including KiwiSport, Green Prescriptions and the Fruit In Schools programme for low-decile schools.

ENDS

Media contact: Jackie Maher 021 243 7803 or Jannel Carter 027 589 8884

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