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Traditional sports skills shape a new active generation

The programme teaches core movement skills, such as balance, jumping, catching and throwing.

An innovative Lower Hutt programme, which introduces children to the sporting skills previous generations took for granted, has tucked another award under its belt.

The programme was a 2014 winner of the NZ Recreation association awards for best community project, and recently earned a NZRA Merit Award in the 2018 awards ceremony.

The programme is believed to be the largest of its type in New Zealand. The aim is an overall skills base to inspire effective participation in sport that could become lifelong, and also to foster a love of being active.

In the eight years since the Kiwisport Fundamental Movement Skills Project began more than 150,000 primary school children in the Wellington region have taken part.

Core skills

It teaches core movement skills, such as balance, jumping and catching and throwing which have been in decline for a variety of reasons.

It is funded largely by the Government via Sport New Zealand, administered through regional sports trusts and led by Hutt City Council. The programme brings together seven organisations to deliver the skills sessions to the children across the Wellington region from Miramar to Otaki, including the Wairarapa.

Swimming and water safety are the most popular options but basketball is increasing in popularity.

Other optional activities are athletics, gymnastics and football.

This year the projects were Water Skills for Life, 5+ A Day Football in Schools, moveMprove, Get Set, Go/Run Jump Throw and Kiwihoops.

Physical skills that were a normal part of growing up for previous generations now need more resources to allow them to be part of childhood.

What makes it different?

Several features make the programme different from others in the sport and recreation space:

  • The fee structure system targets barriers to success in high deprivation and low participation communities.
  • The support process develops the teachers alongside the deliverers.
  • When the project is at capacity for the year (as it is currently) overflow demand is directed to other codes. This has grown the numbers in badminton, basketball and yoga.
  • Codes and programmes adapt from year to year in response to changing interests.
  • It presents an inclusive environment for students with disabilities.
  • It has grown local sporting clubs.

Marsha Chiet, Kiwisport Project Leader for Hutt City Council’s Leisure Active (the council division responsible for sport, parks, recreation, gardens, pools and fitness) says there has been a national decline in children doing physical activity at the same time as a rise in obesity.

Physical literacy

Mark Curr, Sport and Recreation Programmes Manager at Leisure Active, says Sport New Zealand uses the term physical literacy to set kids up with skills to enjoy a life-long love of sport and just being active.

While New Zealand has an enviable reputation as an active nation, there has been a huge decline in children’s physical activity,” Mark says.

“Physical skills that were a normal part of growing up for previous generations now need more resources so allow them to be part of childhood.”

Mark says that the affordability of basic sports gear, screen time, parents working longer hours with lengthy commutes, shortage of teachers and the increasing teacher workload all contribute to the overall picture.

He believes primary teachers are less likely to support sport and PE than they used to be able to do.

But at college level there are 81 sports that students can compete in at national level, he says.

Something they love

“Let’s help with control of bodies and skills so they can sample a range of opportunities to find something they love,” Mark says.

“We know more than ever our young people have fun with this programme and develop core skills for the rest of their life. Principals also like it.

Sport New Zealand uses the term physical literacy to set kids up with skills to enjoy a life-long love of sport and being active.

“They have a good relationship with Sport Wellington which manages the Kiwisport fund.”

Years of conversations with principals led to the programme.

Up to 50 per cent of children in the Wellington region are from high deprivation households where there is often little money for essentials, let alone sports gear like running shoes or swimming togs.

Mark says this project is a bit of petrol to grow equity of opportunity where there would otherwise not be any.

This year it created 196,000 instances of physical activity by 24,500 students.

Mix of funding

It is funded by a mix of Government Kiwisport funding, grants and sponsorship and user pays for schools that can afford it.

“Ratepayer contribution to the programme is minimal,” Mark says.

Mark understands the programme is the most cost-effective Kiwisport-funded project in the region.

The Active in the Hutt team from the Leisure Active Division of Hutt City Council. Back, from left, Marsha Chiet, Zsofi Szamosi and Rebecca Grigg. Front, from left, Mark Curr, Aileen Campbell and Sam Dickie.

Built into the programme are evaluations by both participants and providers. Overall 93.6 per cent of students show an improvement when measured against their assessed skills baseline.

The programme also generates employment and contributes to the operating income of 35 sporting organisations in the region.

Five delivery partners provide the staff who work with the schools. In Lower Hutt most primary schools are involved, including nearly all those in deciles 1-3.

“The cost to schools is very attractive.”

Attractive for schools

Jessica Meates, Principal of Tui Glen School in Stokes Valley, says the programme has been invaluable.

We are a small, low decile school on a tight budget.

“We do not charge school fees, donations or sports fees. KFMS has helped us ensure that being active is accessible and equitable for our students and families.”

At Paparangi School in the north of Wellington the Principal, Tracey Arthurs, says the improvement the children made in the eight lessons was incredible and gave them the ability to actually enjoy swimming lessons.

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For more information:

Kiwisport website


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