Freestyle play the focus as Sport NZ invests $250m to keep kids moving

"Any activity is good activity." 

That's the message from Sport New Zealand, which has announced it's investing more than $250 million in an aim to get children and young people moving, and much of the focus is on freestyle play.

It's due to the fact many young Kiwis aren't building up a sweat.

"It's about kids health and wellbeing," Sport NZ chief executive Peter Miskimmin said. "It's about mental health, it's about physical activity, it's about social connection, it's about teenagers." 

It's teenagers causing the most concern with activity levels - dropping from about the age of 13, and then from the age of 18 it falls significantly.

For those not playing sports, non-competitive activities are being encouraged.

"It could be going for a bike ride," Miskimmin said. "It could be surfing."

What's also being encouraged is the most natural form of activity - free play. With modern lifestyles and technology, kids apparently don't play the way they did a generation ago.

"We've lost the art of playing," Miskimmin said. "I grew up - my generation grew up playing.  

"We want our kids to have a playful upbringing and that means playing in the backyard without parents."

Sport NZ's message to parents is to give their kids time; let them be themselves, and let them play. 

"When I think back to primary school a lot of what you remember is what you did in your lunch breaks and morning tea breaks," pole vaulter Eliza McCartney said. "Just playing with your friends."

Thursday's announcement comes as new figures show an estimated two million New Zealanders will be obese in the next 10 years.


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