Katikati kids take part in a virtual adventure

Logan Woodcock, left, Pranay Patel, Jamie Chen, Nabhya Patel, Alis Patel got to meet Chiefs rugby player Naitoa Ah Kuoi during their virtual adventure. Photo: Supplied.

A Bay of Plenty teacher hopes her pupils have learnt some healthy habits after taking part of a virtual adventure for the past month.

Around 20,000 children have taken the trip of a lifetime thanks to the 2021 Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure.

This year’s Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure provided classes across Aotearoa with an important opportunity to discover the world virtually and embrace healthier lifestyles.

The health and wellbeing programme, which kicked into gear in November, allowed kids to go on a virtual trip around the globe, instilling healthy habits along the way like exercising, eating extra fruit and vegetables, drinking more water and reducing leisure time spent on screens.

With the school year once again disrupted by Covid-19 lockdowns, the programme’s use of technology meant it could still take place while observing all necessary safety protocols across regions with varying Covid-19 restrictions.

Young and Healthy Trust founder Kim Harvey says the team has been monitoring the situation closely, and adjusting the programme accordingly, to ensure children could still have the chance to participate, even if they weren’t necessarily physically back at school given Covid-19 restrictions.

“This year has again been a really challenging period for parents with the disruptions caused by Covid-19 and we’ve been determined to make sure that we still deliver an amazing programme to provide kids and their families with some much needed fun and encouragement.”

The virtual classes gave children the opportunity to meet their sporting heroes who showed them around and shared some interesting facts about local history and geography, as well as some of their personal health tips.

Children were given the chance to track their steps every day and to record these on a website.

They also recorded other healthy habits such as fruit, vegetables, water, sleep and mindfulness. 

As they tracked their steps and habits, they moved around the virtual world map.

Participation in the Virtual Adventure is free thanks to the support of partners like Zespri and ASICS with The Young and Healthy Trust ensuring teachers in participating schools have the resources and support they need to encourage kids to succeed.

Katikati Primary School pupils Noah Roberts and Skye Kuipers opening up their brand new ASICS shoes. Photo: Supplied.

Katikati Primary School is one of many schools around the country who are took part in the initiative.

Katikati Primary School team leader and teacher Jayne Harray says anything that is encouraging tamariki to be active is a good thing.

“The children loved the chance to wear a pedometer and be able to log into their own website and add in their steps. They can see the virtual world map and were excited about visiting other countries and learning something about them.

“It was absolutely amazing for our tamariki to get the chance to get a brand new pair of ASICS shoes each. They were thrilled and very excited to get moving with their new shoes.

“The children have enjoyed skipping and bouncing balls as ways to gain steps. They are learning that being active doesn't have to involve just running, but having fun and playing games. 

“We were also lucky enough to meet Naitoa Ah Kuoi, who is a young Chiefs’ player.

“This was an amazing experience as many of our tamariki, especially the boys, love rugby. So to hear the message to get active and to do some star jumps and running with Naitoa was a great opportunity.”

The year three and four teacher is hoping her students will be thinking about the need to not only be active, but to eat fruit and vegetables every day if they can.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson says the kiwifruit industry is proud to have helped entertain 20,000 kids and families involved in this year’s programme, and to have helped build healthy habits for them and their families.

“We’re really proud to support the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual adventure as we know it brings positive benefits to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders, helping ensure happier, healthy young people and communities,” says Dan.

“We’ve seen first-hand how investing in the wellbeing of our people and communities helps them thrive and we know this year’s adventure will have a huge impact on kids – whether they are back at school or joining in from home.”

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