Families across South Canterbury are amongst the first in New Zealand to trial a home-based resource, designed to foster a lifelong interest in physical activity.
Timaru South School and Oceanview Heights School have two of the classes asked to trial Sport Canterbury’s resource in the South Canterbury region. SportStart Home encourages parents, caregivers, friends and siblings to be active in their home environment.
“When families have the chance to be active together – and when being active is fun – those families have a much better chance at making, and keeping, physical activity as part of their everyday lives,” says Sport Canterbury Chief Executive Julyan Falloon.
With growing demands on parents and caregivers to balance work and family commitments, physical activity opportunities outside of school are often limited.
“We hope this will help make it easier for busy parents and caregivers to support their kids to get active at home.”
Sport Canterbury’s SportStart Home resource contains a bat, tennis ball, hitting tee or cone, bean bag and chalk to draw targets. Activity cards give guidance on ways of using the equipment, but kids are encouraged to be creative and make up their own games and activities, and record their experiences in their PassSport. Kids are encouraged to go outside when they can, but the kit is designed to prompt inside play as well.
Falloon says all the activities are designed to encourage children to explore for themselves ways to throw, field, catch and strike, aligned to the school’s current physical education (PE) unit.
“For example, the beanbag is great to use as an ‘inside’ object to throw and strike, but parents can encourage their child to think about what else they could use for their play – like rolled up socks as an object to throw, or use rope or string to make hoops, or a big cooking pot for an inside target,” she says.
“We’re also encouraging playing together – family and friends as well as exploring on their own – and have had great feedback from parents and children about families all playing together on an activity for the first time, a dad coming home early from work to play with his daughters, and siblings excited to have played games before school.”
Sport Canterbury is now evaluating the pilot project and considering how to roll it out further.
“We know that if children can access quality opportunities to be active, it inspires ongoing participation and creates a lifelong love of being active, and all the health and wellbeing benefits that come with that.
“Given the opportunities for sport and recreation our Canterbury West Coast region is known for, this is our chance to ‘walk the talk’ – and support families in their own homes, where lifelong habits are established.”
In 2011, the original SportStart resource was developed by Sport Canterbury, to promote physical literacy and help teachers feel more confident teaching sport in schools.
Over 1,500 Canterbury and West Coast teachers have been trained, and other Regional Sports Trusts (in Southland and Wellington) have since adopted Sport Canterbury’s SportStart approach.