Project Energize in Wellington

Project Energize is a programme that aims to increase children’s physical activity levels, improve their nutritional status and ultimately their overall health. The programme began at Sport Waikato in 2005, funded by the Waikato District Health Board and was established in Wellington in 2016.

Delivered by the Heart Foundation and funded by Capital Coast District Health Board, the programme enables Energizers to work with schools, teachers and parents to coordinate and deliver physical activity sessions, nutritional advice and help implement health and fitness programmes within primary schools.

Energizer Brianna Tekii says the programme’s growth in Wellington has been positive with 16 Wellington schools now participating in Project Energize. “Our focus has been on primary schools with a high proportion of Pacific and Māori students. We have translated resources into Samoan, Tokelauan and Te Reo to ensure the material is engaging to all children,” Brianna says.

Project Energize is tailored to each school and a plan is developed in consultation with the children, teachers, parents and wider school community. The school completes a needs analysis with a focus on what they’re doing well and what they could improve on. The assessment is then the basis of a 12-month action plan for the school.

“Ultimately, it’s great to see District Health Boards taking a lead in improving the health of our tamariki. Project Energize is a preventative approach that relies on empowering our people to help them form good lifelong health habits from an early age,” says Sport Waikato Chief Executive Matthew Cooper. Project Energize is delivered alongside an existing health unit within the school curriculum. Energizers help promote healthy eating through school lunch order systems, providing information on healthier food choices for lunches and snacks.

They also assist teachers in providing daily exercise activities and encourage children to choose more active play options at home.

”We bring the ideas by teaching a new game and we’re there to support the teachers to ensure this becomes routine practise,” adds Brianna.

The range of colourful resources are a particular highlight of the programme with a variety of fridge magnets, posters and information sheets that children can take home.

Anecdotal evidence includes one school swapping white bread to wholemeal bread for their sausage sizzles and another school identifying a water and plain milk policy.

With the aim to increase the participating schools to 30 by July 2019, the development of Project Energize in Wellington is set to continue. Enabling more school aged children to improve their overall physical activity, nutrition and health.

For more information on Project Energize visit http://www.projectenergize.org.nz/.