Char­ity steps up for healthy liv­ing

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Monty Betham is fight­ing a big bat­tle – and it looks like he may be win­ning.

The for­mer War­riors cap­tain and boxer is now tack­ling obe­sity with his char­ity Steps for Life.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion will ben­e­fit from this year’s Gro­cery Char­ity Ball in Au­gust.

The ball is in its 10th year and is run by New Zealand’s two big­gest su­per­mar­ket own­ers, Pro­gres­sive En­ter­prises and Food­Stuffs, and the New Zealand Food and Gro­cery Coun­cil.

Mr Betham is of­ten thought of as a tough guy but he says he broke down when the cho­sen char­ity was an­nounced. It was Steps for Life’s last chance, he says.

‘‘I got a bit emo­tional be­cause I re­ally care about it. You don’t put your name to some­thing which you think is go­ing to fail.’’

New Zealand is ranked the third fat­test na­tion in the OECD.

Mr Betham and his sis­ter Chante Betham-Spencer founded Steps for Life in 2011 to help young peo­ple find health­ier life­styles.

The 12-week pro­gramme teaches ex­er­cise and nu­tri­tion, in­clud­ing su­per­mar­ket tours where stu­dents dis­cuss food op­tions, prices, and la­belling tricks.

On aver­age most par­tic­i­pants come away 10kg lighter and no­tice­ably more self­con­fi­dent, Mr Betham says.

‘‘By the end of the 12 weeks they’re to­tally dif­fer­ent kids . . . they’re talk­ing, they’ve found voices.’’

Gro­cery Char­ity Ball Trust di­rec­tor Don Gra­ham says Mr Betham’s ap­pli­ca­tion blew him away.

‘‘He gave a speech right from the heart. Th­ese guys run off the smell of an oily rag and they’re just so pas­sion­ate about it.’’

Mr Gra­ham says the ball is the one night of the year where the gro­cery in­dus­try works to­gether in­stead of ar­gu­ing for mar­ket share.

The link be­tween supermarkets and pro­mot­ing obe­sity aware­ness re­ally struck a chord, Mr Gra­ham says.

‘‘It made us feel very hum­ble ac­tu­ally. It’s the as­so­ci­a­tion of what Steps for Life is do­ing and it’s about be­ing so­cially re­spon­si­ble.’’

Or­gan­is­ers are aim­ing to raise $250,000 from the ball.

Cre­at­ing aware­ness of the char­ity is even more im­por­tant, Mr Gra­ham says.

Steps for Life is based in South Auck­land but would like to go national.

‘‘They are a very small, hum­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion start­ing at the grass­roots. They’re work­ing their way up. They have enor­mous po­ten­tial,’’ Mr Gra­ham says.

Stu­dents get started with Steps for Life for a range of rea­sons but they have one com­mon goal – to change their lives.

One­hunga High School stu­dent Jae­dene Doull, 14, says her health is what got her go­ing.

‘‘I have a heart prob­lem and I’m just too big for it.’’

Her class­mate An­gela Fo­tu­manusa, 14, says she ap­plied to lose weight for her sis­ter’s wed­ding and stu­dent Koro­ria Down, 12, says she just wants to get fit.

Mr Betham says they’ve come to the right place.

‘‘I say just give us 12 weeks of your life and we’ll give you a new one.’’


Fight­ing fit: Steps for Life founder Monty Betham, right, with Gro­cery Char­ity Ball Trust di­rec­tor Don Gra­ham and pro­gramme par­tic­i­pants An­gela Fo­tu­manusa, Koro­ria Down and Jae­dene Doull.

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