The focus is on fun for Play Week Ambassador Dame Valerie Adams as she encourages tamariki, whānau and communities to play their part in Play Week Aotearoa 2021.
Play Week Aotearoa 2021 is a cross-government initiative to celebrate the value of play and highlight the importance of quality play opportunities and experiences for tamariki, to ensure they have the best possible start in life.
As a mother of two, Dame Valerie understands how important play is for her children and hopes the Play Week initiative can help other families across Aotearoa say yes to play.
“It’s super important to have play within our family. We have a 2 and a 4-year-old now, and for our young ones they actually want us to participate so we make a big effort to do that.
“It’s also about making memories. I want my kids to grow up and say hey I remember when mum and dad used to play hide and seek with me. It’s our responsibility and our duty as parents to give them that opportunity.”
Play is at the heart of Sport NZ’s strategy to improve the physical activity levels of young people, and Sport NZ Play System Lead Scott Mackenzie, says it is a vital component of a child’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual development.
“Play is the easiest way for tamariki to stay active. It offers fun and freedom and the opportunity for them to learn to solve problems, get creative, face new challenges, and create new friendships.
“It is often taken for granted that play will always be a part of growing up in New Zealand, but we recognise attitudes to play have changed as we see changing cultural values, fears about children’s safety and the increase in device-based activities. We want to encourage whānau to be actively involved in making play happen at home, in their neighbourhoods and local environments.”
With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic being felt throughout New Zealand, Scott MacKenzie says play can also help improve resilience and physical and mental health for tamariki and it doesn’t have to be formal, structured, or expensive.
Dame Valerie agrees, saying you don’t have to spend money to make play time fun.
“You can play tiggy or just put some shoes on and go for a walk together - that’s all they want. It might take you an hour to walk around the block but that’s an hour well spent with your kids.”
Dame Valerie also emphasises the importance of ensuring not only whanau are involved in play, but the community as well.
“Everything we’ve seen, from this pandemic we’re living in, right through to staying healthy, eating healthy, staying fit, it does take a community.
“We need to help our younger kids get out of the house. How do we make it more fun for them to be able to say, actually I don’t want to play video games, I want to go outside and play with my mates. We might have to push a little bit and encourage at the start, but we just need to keep encouraging and keep pushing until it becomes second nature.”
One of Sport NZ’s seven principles of play is that it must be the shared responsibility of everyone. The organisation is leading the development of a national play system through supporting a play workforce based in Regional Sports Trusts, National Play Organisations, Kaupapa Māori focused organisations, and Councils, across Aotearoa.
Sport NZ will use Play Week Aotearoa 2021 to build on its partnerships with other government agencies that have an interest in play in their communities, and to support those agencies to raise awareness about the value of play and extend the message to their stakeholders and regions, as well as holding play events.
With the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of wellbeing, whānau and tamariki across Aotearoa are encouraged to take some time out to play during Play Week Aotearoa 2021, and beyond.
For further information on Play Week Aotearoa 2021, please visit www.playweek.co.nz
Note: Dame Valerie Adams is not available for interview, however a VNR with further quotes and video with her children is available here: https://we.tl/t-T32V6IJ7ms
The government agencies supporting this initiative include Sport NZ, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Department of Conservation, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, ACC, Ministry of Health.
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