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Report highlights successes of Healthy Families NZ initiative

Report highlights successes of Healthy Families NZ initiative

The Ministry of Health welcomes the recently-published Healthy Families NZ Summative Evaluation Report that highlights what’s working well and where change is needed to make the Healthy Families NZ initiative more effective and more equitable.

New public water fountains increase access to water for all

New public water fountains increase access to water for all

Park users in parts of West Auckland will have increased access to fresh water with the installation of five new water fountains over the next month.

The investment in the new fountains has been a priority for the Whau Local Board, which contributed funding to the project last year. 

The fountains will be installed in popular parks, including some where sports clubs are located.  These include Brains Park, Sister Rene Shadbolt Park, Eastdale Reserve, Lawson Park and Blockhouse Bay Recreational Reserve.

The Whau Local Board has worked alongside Healthy Families Waitakere to engage with the park and sports club users, as well as community members regularly using the facilities, for recommendations on where the fountains should be placed, in high traffic areas.

“We consulted with the local sports clubs involved to determine the best location for these fountains.  These clubs are increasingly promoting water as the best choice of drink for their members while playing sport and giving users access to fresh drinking water is a critical part of this,” says Healthy Families Waitakere Manager Kerry Allan.

Healthy Families Waitakere has been working across West Auckland to help different sectors of the community – including schools, clubs, workplaces and recreational facilities – to tackle sugary drink intake, and ultimately drive the consumption of water. 

“The placement of these fountains in public parks, where people are playing, exercising and socialising, is another important step to increasing access to fresh water – and helping our community make it their drink of choice,” adds Ms Allan. 

Whau Local Board Chair Tracy Mulholland says the Board is committed to the ongoing investment in water fountains as part of the rejuvenation of local parks, gardens and reserves alongside other work, such as the development of new paths and cycleways.

“A key focus for our board is to support more active and healthier lifestyles and the installation of water fountains helps encourage people to get out and use our parks and open spaces for recreational purposes,” she says.

“These spaces are backyards for everyone and we are proud to work with Healthy Families Waitakere and, also, to commit more funding to this project for 2018/19.”

The new fountains will include both fountains and bottle fillers, and some will also include dog drinking trays.

As part of West Auckland’s pro water movement, a number of local leaders including politicians, school principals, councillors and primary healthcare organisations are joining others in signing the Healthy Families Waitakere water pledge.  The pledge is a social movement to creative more health promoting environments where water is the first and best choice for all. 

A brighter future for our tamariki in early childhood centres

A brighter future for our tamariki in early childhood centres

Healthy Families Waitakere convened stakeholders and educators from the early childhood sector to develop ideas and create early learning environments where children eat well and are more physically active.

Over a series of workshops, six different stakeholders came together with teachers from 70 West Auckland centres. The workshops provided a space for shared learnings and collective thinking towards actions to positively influence the health and wellbeing of under 5’s.

Educators have had success in making significant changes to their teaching practices and centre procedures. Ranui Kindergarten teachers gained an understanding of how to apply culturally relevant strategies to promote physical activity and re-designed their play activities to reflect Māori knowledge and practices.

Teacher Tui Cusack said they were inspired to apply a cultural lens to their sessions to cater to the 55% Māori children attending the kindergarten. “The teaching team looked at ways to weave a Māori physical activity framework into our setting so put what we learnt into practice and the children responded well.” she says.

Glendene Learning Steps focused on improving their environment and resources to increase physical activity in the centre. Teaching staff redeveloped a number of their active play resources, introduced new activities and upgraded their playground. Teacher, Nalina Nand said the new resources added value to their sessions around play, “The kids are more active since the new resources have been introduced”, she says.

Discoveries Educare in Te Atatu Peninsula want to inspire other centres nationwide to make positive changes around food provision. The centre is working towards the gold level of the Heart Foundation’s Healthy Heart Award and made improvements to their menu by adding a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.

Staff have also seen less food waste since engaging parents in ways to create healthier lunchboxes.

“Over half of a child’s daily diet is consumed at day care, we want our centre to set an example for all Discoveries day care centres to create consistency across the organisation around healthy food messages and to show children that food is fun and nutritious”, says Manager Jessie Lin.

Healthy Families Waitakere Manager Kerry Allan says early learning environments play a huge role in children’s wellbeing with most children spending up to 6 hours a day in early childhood centres.

“By bringing the early childhood community together to think differently about the underlying causes of poor health, we can make changes to create more health promoting early childhood centres to set the foundations for a healthier future for tamariki”.