Cory Jane says fun is the best way to lever kids away from screens and into ex­er­cis­ing.

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - LAST WORD + QUIZ -

For­mer All Black and dad of four Cory Jane is all for kids get­ting in­volved in sports – but only if they want to.

If throw­ing, kick­ing or hit­ting a ball around a field, pitch or court is not their thing, then they shouldn’t be pres­sured, he says – though it’s im­por­tant they are ac­tive, do­ing some­thing they en­joy.

Jane, who played 55 matches for the All Blacks be­tween 2008 and 2014, uses his own kids as an ex­am­ple of the need to be ac­tive, as in the New Zealand’s Health­i­est Schools Chal­lenge or­gan­ised by in­sur­ance firms AIA and Sovereign – for which he was an am­bas­sador.

“Play­ing sport is great, but if kids are not that con­fi­dent, then let them try some­thing else that gets them out and be­ing ac­tive.”

Jane’s sec­ond son, nine- year-old Ten­nyson ( Jane is also dad to Cas­sius, 12, Pris­seis, 7, and Iridessa, 5) is a case in point.

“He’s re­ally smart when it comes to school work but when it comes to sport, he doesn’t have that con­fi­dence. My mes­sage to him is that you should give things a try and you don’t have to be the best – I wasn’t when I was a kid – but you should be hav­ing fun. If you’re not hav­ing fun, find some­thing ac­tive you en­joy.”

En­cour­ag­ing kids to be phys­i­cally ac­tive is some­thing Jane has been do­ing of late in his role with the Health­i­est Schools Chal­lenge – which in­volved over 55,000 chil­dren from 500 schools through­out the coun­try wear­ing pe­dome­ters for six weeks to mon­i­tor how much they moved.

Their ac­tiv­ity lev­els were then en­tered into an on­line pro­gramme that took them on a vir­tual ad­ven­ture around with world with Jane and fel­low am­bas­sador, for­mer Black Sticks hockey player, Gemma McCaw. The more ac­tiv­ity the chil­dren logged, the fur­ther they could go; along the way they were given tips on well­be­ing, manag­ing screen time, sun safety and nutri­tion as part of the plan to in­spire them to adopt healthy habits.

“It’s been fan­tas­tic be­ing in­volved with the Health­i­est Schools Chal­lenge,” says Jane, who is cur­rently coach­ing the Welling­ton Lions.

“I think it is a re­ally great idea. As a dad,

I know how im­por­tant it is to get your chil­dren mov­ing – un­for­tu­nately too many kids spend a lot of time in­side watch­ing TV or play­ing com­puter games.

“But if you make it a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity and fun, they are more likely to want to do it.”

He and wife Amie try to take their kids out for dif­fer­ent bush walks in the Welling­ton area once a week: “If I said to them, ‘ We’re go­ing to go for a walk for an hour’ they wouldn’t be in­ter­ested. But if you say, ‘ We’re go­ing into the bush and we’re go­ing to find a wa­ter­fall,’ they like that – and they have a great time.”

Jane has vis­ited sev­eral schools which took part in the chal­lenge and was pleased to see how it mo­ti­vated chil­dren – many as young as five or six – to get mov­ing.

“They re­ally got into it and, along the way, they had fun and learned a lot. All credit to the teach­ers and the par­ents for sup­port­ing them.”

Around 150 five- and six- year-olds from Pe­ga­sus Bay School in North Can­ter­bury were among the pupils who took part in the chal­lenge.

Prin­ci­pal Roger Horn­blow says the kids not only threw them­selves into mov­ing as much as pos­si­ble at school to get their step counts up, but “they’d go home and say, ‘Right, Mum and Dad, let’s go for a walk to the beach or around the lake’. They were re­ally mo­ti­vated to see the to­tal steps build up on­line.”

Even once the chal­lenge fin­ished at the end of Novem­ber, many of the par­tic­i­pants have kept up the ex­tra ex­er­cise.

“Lots of the kids are still wear­ing their step bands,” says ju­nior school teacher at Pe­ga­sus Bay school, Si­mon Craw­ford. “They are a lot more aware of what they can do to in­crease their fit­ness. This has been a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

The health tips gleaned as part of the vir­tual on­line ad­ven­ture with Jane and McCaw have hope­fully stuck, says Horn­blow: “In­creas­ing aware­ness of eat­ing well is a big thing. Peo­ple say we need to leave a bet­ter world for our kids but we turn that around to say we need to leave bet­ter, more in­formed kids to the world.

“So much comes down to life­style choices.

If the Health­i­est Schools Chal­lenge can keep go­ing and get chil­dren and their par­ents think­ing, that is a re­ally good thing. Big ups to AIA/ Sovereign for com­ing up with this.”

An­other bonus was that Pe­ga­sus Bay School was one of the win­ners in a draw that gave away $50,000 in sports grants to schools around the coun­try. Pe­ga­sus Bay won the top grant of $10,000 – pre­sented to them by Cory Jane – while four other schools got $5000 each and an­other 20 re­ceived $1000.

“We are just blown away – it’s a huge amount of money and would have taken a lot of fundrais­ing,” says Horn­blow, adding that the school will put it to­wards de­vel­op­ing a set of play-based equip­ment for the ju­nior school.

Some of the schools who signed up to do the chal­lenge also got a spe­cial treat in the form of soc­cer coach­ing ses­sions with t wo in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment coaches from Bri­tish premier league foot­ball team Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. Sean Har­ris and An­ton Black­wood trav­elled around the coun­try pass­ing on soc­cer skills to school teams and clubs, while also shar­ing their tips about nutri­tion and well­be­ing.

Nick Stan­hope, CEO of AIA New Zealand and Sovereign, says while the chal­lenge was meant to be fun, it was also hoped it would have a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit to the lives of the chil­dren who took part.

“Re­search shows that healthy habits de­vel­oped be­fore a child turns 10 are far more likely to last a life­time. AIA and Sovereign – which have joined to­gether – have a shared vi­sion of mak­ing New Zealand one of the health­i­est and best­pro­tected na­tions in the world, and the Health­i­est Schools Chal­lenge fits that goal per­fectly.”

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