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As of the 18th of December 2020, the Project Energize programme will come to an end. 
If you have any questions or queries regarding this programme, please don’t hesitate to contact GM People & Communities Andrew Corkill

Project Energize, which began in 2005, increases children's physical activity, improves their nutrition and ultimately their overall health.

A team of Energizers delivers the project in Waikato primary and intermediate schools and each Energizer supports a number of schools in their geographic area.

Energizers are available to provide practical 'hands on' support and assistance to schools and teachers with any initiatives that will increase the quality and quantity of physical activity or improve the uptake of healthy eating.

Waikato District Health Board funds Project Energize.

Why Project Energize?

We know that our children, along with the rest of our community, have increased health problems such as lack of fitness, poor teeth, poor bone strength, and increasing obesity. The health problems are all associated with decreasing physical activity, increased inactive time, decreased intake of calcium, fruit, and vegetables, and increased intake of fat and sugar-dense food and drink. Energize has been designed to improve our children's health.

How did Project Energize begin?

Energize began in 2004 as a randomised control trial in Waikato primary schools. There were 62 programme and 63 control schools. Following a successful trial the programme was extended and offered to all control schools and eventually extended even further to include all Waikato primary and intermediate schools.

Currently Energize services the 240 primary and intermediate schools in the Waikato District Health Board catchment area which extends from Coromandel to Taumaranui.

Our Philosophy

Energize staff are available to help schools with a whole range of programmes and projects that encourage healthy eating and physical activity. For example:

  • Help promote healthy eating through school lunch order systems
  • Provide information on healthier food choices for lunches and snacks
  • Assist teachers in providing varied and quality daily exercise activities
  • Encourage children to choose more active play options at home

The programme is tailored to each school. Working with Energize, schools develop their own plan in consultation with the children, teachers, parents and wider school community.

Energize is not another curriculum for schools

Energize is an "evolution not revolution" programme. Energize staff will help the schools change what they do, and how they do it, not just add another curriculum programme.

Energize is gradual, not a "big bang". Energize staff help schools identify opportunities for change, provide resources where needed, and support the change process.

More on Energize

For the children involved as well as their families and communities, there are a series of key messages about nutrition and activity. The messages promote activity of all kinds, and simple nutritional messages.

We are social marketers, and we find creative ways to make sure that the key messages become just a normal part of healthy living. It's important to make sure the key messages are consistent across home, school and community.

It's also important that the messages and the programme actions are the same. The focus is on encouraging small changes gradually over time - achieving great changes in small steps.

Beyond Team Energize

Energize is now delivered beyond the Waikato region.

In New Zealand the following Sports Trusts have taken on the programme – Sport Northland and Wellington the Heart Foundation.

In Ireland the programme runs through the Cork Institute of Technology. This Irish equivalent of Energize is called Project Spraoi (pronounced Spree), works within local primary schools as part of CIT’s exercise and health research cluster.

Energize is also being delivered beyond the primary school setting.

In 2013, Sport Waikato in partnership with local early childhood centres, Maaori and Pacific health providers and the Ministry of Health, began delivery of Under 5 Energize  in areas including Hauraki, Thames, Tokoroa, Putaruru, Huntly, Ngaruawahia  and with the Waikato Kindergarten Association in Hamilton. Under 5 Energizers work closely with early childhood centres and organisations associated with early childhood.

In 2014, Energized Practices, a 15 month pilot programme to selected medical centres began. This progamme follows the Energize model and is delivered through three Regional Sports Trusts - Sport Waikato, Sport Taranaki and Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti. Also involved are Midlands Health Network (MHN) and the Waikato, Taranaki and Tairawhiti District Health Boards.

Energized Practices is a Ministry of Health innovations fund to support Green Prescription (GRx) diabetes innovation and best practice. Using data provided by MHN, the project targets practices with the greatest numbers of people with diabetes and where other risk factors are greatest.