ALL BLACK: KIDS NEED TO HAVE FUN
Cory Jane says fun is the best way to lever kids away from screens and into exercising.
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.”