WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Catholic character in action

Staff and students at Holy Cross School, Miramar, turned on their warmest welcome for the prime minister last month when she visited the school to launch the government’s new interactive website to encourage children to eat well and be active.
The website, www.mission- Mar08HCRoss2PMFeb08.jpg on.co.nz is aimed at five to 12-year-olds and shows a number of activities which children can do interspersed with pop-up messages about healthy eating. It is billed as a fun way to help kids understand the relationship between food and activity.
Holy Cross principal, Celeste Hastings, says the school started encouraging children to raise their level of activity several years ago. They adopted physical education programmes Victoria University had developed and worked with university advisers in the past two years.
The school also participated in a Skip Off for the Heart Foundation last year.
‘We try to make the best of every opportunity,’ Celeste Hastings said. The school has also instituted a walking school bus to encourage parents to walk their children to school.
Mission-On manager, Deb Hurdle, says Sparc (Sport and Recreation) chose Holy Cross as the venue for the website launch because the school had already shown initiative in this area in appointing a lifestyle ambassador last year.
Linking food with energy
The site highlights ‘the importance of nutrition and fuelling our bodies with healthy food, as well as giving exciting ideas about ways to get active at home and outdoors’.
A key feature of the website is that it allows children to set goals and record their progress by earning points that can be redeemed in a virtual rewards shop. They can also make friends and compete against each other.
‘We are using modern technology that today’s kids are very familiar with to help them live the great Kiwi lifestyle that past generations have enjoyed and thrived on,’ Helen Clark said.
The minister of sport and recreation, Clayton Cosgrove, said it made sense to use the internet to encourage children to get active and eat healthily because ‘many are regular internet users at home, at school or in their communities.
‘Characters on the site encourage the audience to take what they learn on the site offline to the real world. Children are not only inspired to complete offline activities, they are also rewarded on the site if they do so.’
Their own web page
Children can personalise their own page and character, earn points and win prizes, receive virtual medals for mastering new skills and post pictures and videos showing how they have put what they learnt online into practice in their day-to-day lives.
So far the government has spent $3.1 million on the venture and will put a further $1 million into it each year to keep the material on the site fresh.
Helen Clark said the website was particularly important in keeping the population healthy because there are so many more distractions in the form of fast food outlets.
‘When I was growing up ice-cream was a treat we had only occasionally. Now you can buy an ice-cream on the way home from school. It’s readily available.’
There were McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets everywhere, she said. But if kids were being encouraged to eat healthily and taught in a fun way about the relationship between good food and fuel for the body to take part in all sorts of activities, they were more likely to stay away from fast foods.
Asked if there were some kids in lower socio-economic areas who might miss out, Helen Clark said that all schools were now well resourced with computers and access to the internet.
Image shows Prime Minister Helen Clark being introduced to the new website, Mission-On at Holy Cross School, Miramar. With her is Joshua Arthurs. Priyal Patel shows Sport and Recreation minister Clayton Cosgrove the new website while Joseph Graham watches with Mervyn and Catholic Schools manager Michele Lafferty looks on.