Students from St James Primary, a Healthy Active Learning School, have been taking play and sport equipment home and getting active after school with whānau and friends, as part of Sport Canterbury’s SportStart Home initiative.
Healthy Active Learning is all about enhancing the wellbeing of tamariki through healthy eating and drinking and quality physical activity, and SportStart Home aims to inspire tamariki to lead play and activity at home, resulting in happier, healthier families.
Healthy Active Learning facilitator Vicki Cowley says, “We identified that the school can’t provide sporting opportunities within the school day due to the high cost of transport and the ability to access parent or community support for inter-school sport. And many children don’t engage in sport and play outside of school.”
But SportStart Home is changing that. “The SportStart Home kit has activities and a piece of equipment designed for children to try out at home with variations, which can include family or friends. The concept is similar to the reading folder that comes home each week,” says Vicki.
After piloting the project in 2021, St James Primary School and Sport Canterbury joined forces during Play Week Aotearoa 15-21 November to come up with more ideas and equipment for tamariki to use at home with the emphasis on ‘Let’s play at home’.
With the help of Tū Mānawa funding, the school purchased more equipment and was able to provide take-home kits to all students, giving them more access to play in the home or local community.
The equipment includes playground balls for juniors, padder tennis bats and balls for middle syndicate and frisbees for seniors – and new activities to try outside of school.
Tamariki are learning games, developing skills and exploring how to adapt games at home using items from around the house. They have been playing with rolled up socks for bean bags, frying pans for bats and rubbish bins or buckets for targets.
Students have been eager to share their experiences.
“When I first got the gear, what I first tried out was throwing the tennis ball into the bucket that we had at home, and it made me feel very happy that I was able to get it in a few times,” says Grace, aged nine.
“My brother then joined in with me, so we had lots of fun taking turns. We then used the same bucket to shoot the basketball into and we also did some chest passes to each other.”
Another student said: “The equipment made me feel fantastic, I was really good at hitting the tennis ball with the bat.”
When it comes to children, Vicki says being active and playing provides them with opportunities to be creative and be physical, which is important for physical growth, development and cognitive functioning.
“Children and whānau engaging in physical activity also helps them to feel good and feel included.
“Providing access to quality opportunities to be active also inspires ongoing participation and creates a lifelong love of being active, and all the health and wellbeing benefits that come with it,” says Vicki.
“Home is a vital setting for those opportunities, and we’re excited about the response to our SportStart Home kits and ongoing potential to help more whānau and kids get active.”