Health Minister Jonathan Coleman last week launched Healthy Families Waitakere in West Auckland.
“Healthy Families NZ will improve people’s health where they live, learn, work and play, as a way to prevent obesity and chronic illness,” says Dr Coleman.
“The initiative encourages people to live healthier lives by making good food choices, being physically active, moderating alcohol and being smoke-free.
“Healthy Families NZ aims to move away from small disconnected short term projects to sustainable action with large scale reach across the community driven by local leaders.”
Waitakere is the third community to launch the initiative following the launch of Healthy Families East Cape in April and Healthy Families Invercargill in July.
$4.9 million is being invested into Healthy Families Waitakere over four years. The lead provider, Sport Waitakere, has established a governance group of local leaders from across the community.
“Sport Waitakere has strong linkages in the community. There are already a number of local initiatives underway which are delivering results and have the potential to be up-scaled across the region,” says Dr Coleman.
“Waitakere is promoting a range of activities and events throughout September to encourage local communities to start prioritising health prevention. Local supermarkets are getting involved in the Fresh Choice pilot that includes store displays and layouts to promote fresh produce, as well as staff wellbeing initiatives.
“Other local initiatives include the Workplace Health Forum for West Auckland businesses, Unitec’s Healthy Me Challenge for staff and students, and the launch of the Kids Cook in the Kitchen cookbook.”
As part of the launch Dr Coleman visited Royal Road School in Massey which has a range of initiatives to encourage healthy lifestyles for children, including their own school garden.
Budget 2014 allocated $40 million over four years to support Healthy Families NZ in ten communities. The initiative has the potential to impact the lives of over a million Kiwis.
It will be launched this year in the Far North, Lower Hutt, Rotorua, Whanganui, Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura and Spreydon-Heathcote.