By: Scott Yeoman

Dr Anna Rolleston, director of the Centre for Health in central Tauranga, helped develop the pilot programme. Photo/file

A week of healthy eating, moving and learning awaits students at Arataki Primary School in Mount Maunganui.

The school’s 86-student bilingual Kopukairoa unit is hosting a diabetes events and education programme starting on Monday.

Dr Anna Rolleston, director of the Centre for Health in central Tauranga, helped develop the programme and said it was about teaching the children the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

She said the students would also learn what diabetes is and the difference between type 1 and type 2. Making that distinction was important, she said.

The initiative was founded and funded by Zespri and will tie in with World Diabetes Day on November 14.

Rolleston said her centre was eager to get involved when Zespri pitched the idea.

“Lifestyle management for chronic disease is our expertise and diabetes is a chronic disease which is, unfortunately, becoming more and more of an issue here in New Zealand and at a younger and younger age than it used to be.”

She said parents at the school would be invited to participate throughout the week.

Educating children also helped educate families, Rolleston said, as children were likely to go home and talk about what they have learned.

She said the two key messages for the children would be positive and simple: drink more water, eat real food.

During the week there would be a free healthy breakfast put on and a day of games and activities centred on getting the children moving.

Free health-check stations were also planned, as well as advice for parents and caregivers, a community day and the chance to illustrate a book designed to educate youngsters about type 2 diabetes.

The book is written in English and te reo Maori.

Zespri’s Amy Porter liaises with Maori kiwifruit growers and said the company became involved after learning Maori were 50 per cent more likely than non-Maori to develop the preventable type 2 diabetes.

“We started talking about things we could do to educate and help locally,” she said.

“We wanted to get the information to younger kids, teach them how to be healthy, not be in the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”

Porter said the school project would encourage children to take the health message home to their families and she hoped the pilot programme would roll out into other schools around New Zealand.

“We’re also aiming to bring whanau into the school, to get involved and have a health check.”

Arataki Primary School’s healthy week:

Monday: Introduction day where Zespri health scientist Juliet Ansell talks about type 2 diabetes and blood sugar and outlines why it’s important to know about these things.
Tuesday: A free healthy breakfast and a discussion with the kids about healthy food choices. There will be blood-glucose testing on the adults – a blood sugar sample before and after breakfast to illustrate to the kids how blood sugar works.
Wednesday: Movement day to get the kids up and moving and a discussion about the effect of exercise on their blood sugars and about moving for healthy lifestyles.
Thursday: Community day with parents and families. Adults can have their blood pressure checked at a health-check station and ask questions about general health and wellbeing. Zespri will have its smoothie-making bikes as well as an obstacle race, face-painting and a healthy afternoon tea. There will also be games.
Friday: Wrap-up day. Kids have the opportunity to illustrate a bilingual book, written by a local author, that’s designed to teach them about diabetes. They will receive copies of the published book.

About diabetes:

  • Diabetes is a disease where your body cannot control its blood-sugar levels properly – either because your body doesn’t make enough (or any) insulin, or because your cells have become resistant to insulin.
  • Type 1 diabetes is when your body has stopped producing insulin. People with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin to live. It is usually diagnosed in children and is less common than type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes is when your cells have become insulin resistant or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to keep you healthy. It usually develops in adults but it is becoming more common in children. It is the only type of diabetes linked with obesity.
    Source: Ministry of Health

Source: Bay of Plenty Times 


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