Youth health tops agenda at East Auckland learning centre

Edukids Baverstock staff members are participating in the Heart Foundation five-kilometre challenge at the Auckland ASB ...
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Edukids Baverstock staff members are participating in the Heart Foundation five-kilometre challenge at the Auckland ASB Marathon. Back row: Sarbjit Kaur, Belinda Khun, Hao Zhou, Donna Samaranayake, Pooja Sharma. Second row: Standing behind children from left to right are Daisy Zuo, Kavita Bhatia, Rachael Zhang, Maria Rayapeddi. Front row: Prabhsimran Jawanda, Andrew Zuo and Japman Kaur.

A heart-warming push to promote children's health is being taken up by staff members of an East Auckland learning centre.

Teachers at Edukids Baverstock are entering the Heart Foundation five-kilometre challenge at the ASB Auckland Marathon on October 29 to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

It's one of the first initiatives to mark the Best Start Hauora drive to promote youth health and well-being through nutrition and exercise. 

Edukids centre manager Daisy Zuo says her team is committed to understand how exercise benefits everyone. 

"Signing up for this event together is a great way of focusing on our health and being role models to our children and families.

"We do yoga together before staff meetings for flexibility training and to maintain clarity and to calm the mind," she says.

Each of the 14 staff and three of their own children who entered the event have also begun individual training and will attend team training sessions planned for closer to the challenge.

As part of the Heart Foundation Healthy Heart Award programme, the early learning centre has introduced healthier birthday celebrations, while its menus are being reviewed to the organisation's pā-harakeke (gold) standard. 

Edukids has also recently rebuilt one of its kitchens to be child-friendly enabling groups of kids to take turns preparing lunch each Monday.

Heart Foundation nutrition advisor Tina Buch is impressed with the way the whole community has got behind the Heart Foundation programmes and taken on the 5km challenge to set good examples for the children and families they work with.

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"I love the way Daisy inspires her staff and how positive the staff are about creating a healthy environment for the children in the centre," says Buch.

Zuo says her team has embraced the programme as they know children imitate their parents and teachers' behaviours and the Healthy Heart Award focuses on creating an environment focused on nutrition, establishing healthy eating habits and physical activities. 

"Statistics show one in nine Kiwi children aged two to 14 are obese (11 per cent) and a further 21 per cent are overweight. 

"This figure is alarming as obesity is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for a number of major diseases."

The Healthy Heart Award is a free programme, partially funded by the Ministry of Health. For more information, visit learnbyheart.org.nz.

 - Stuff

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