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Food and play is a recipe for success in Southland

Jessie Beer, KiwiHarvest and Megan Dawson, Healthy Families Invercargill play systems innovator, Active Southland

A group of Southland organisations are joining forces to help isolated rural communities create a healthy balance of nutrition and play. 

Invercargill food rescue agency KiwiHarvest, with support from Southland Rotary Satellite Club, applied for Tū Manawa funding through Active Southland to include ‘play packs’ in the food parcels it delivers to local whānau. 

Between now and Christmas, KiwiHarvest will distribute sixty play packs, featuring games such as playing cards and stacking towers and a range of sporting gear, to whānau in the rural communities of Ohai/Nightcaps, Tuatapere and Otautau. 

“We’ve never done anything quite like this but jumped at the chance to provide more manaakitanga to our whānau in the wider community,” says delighted KiwiHarvest branch co-ordinator Jessie Beer. 

“The play packs will be going to our isolated rural communities to create a healthy balance of nutrition and play, and that, in turn, will create positive change in the community,” she says. 

“We hope that through the play packs, whānau will be encouraged to have fun and gain better overall wellbeing.” 

Combining play packs with food parcels hasn’t been done before, says Jessie, and down the track there’ll be an evaluation process carried out. If the initiative proves successful, KiwiHarvest intends to apply for further funding and extend its offering to other whānau in the Southland region. 

“We are passionate about this mahi and hope we achieve some great outcomes and put smiles on the faces of whānau,” says Healthy Families Invercargill play systems innovator, Megan Dawson. 

“With this pilot, we’re excited to see the impact the play packs could potentially make to whānau connection, activity and gained confidence – and bring about positive change,” she says.   

Sport NZ Play consultant Mark Curr says, “We know that play is vital to the wellbeing and development of our young people, but in some communities, play is under threat. We’re delighted to see innovative approaches like this being taken to create more play, where it is needed most.” 

“We all need play in our neighbourhoods, but sometimes it takes a little nudge to make it happen. This is a great example of community groups working together to do just that,” says Mark. 

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