For 15 years AUT Millennium’s Schools Programme has been helping young New Zealanders be the best they can be.
It is a crucial AUT Millennium community service unit and focuses on water safety, learn to swim and education outside the classroom, providing students with an active, hands-on learning experience.
The Schools Programme has developed important partnerships with Swimming New Zealand, WaterSafe Auckland and Coastguard to deliver life-changing programmes.
In that time 125,000 school children have been through the programme, 40,000 have learnt to swim, 60,700 have completed a water safety lesson and 25,000 have experienced the education outside the classroom programmes.
They are impressive numbers and are testament to the dedication of the small group of instructors, who form the programme’s team.
Running parallel to the Schools Programme has been AUT Millennium’s 15 year partnership with Nestlé.
Nestlé has been the nutrition partner of AUT Millennium since 2002 and the two organisations share a commitment to helping New Zealanders live healthier lives.
Throughout the past 15 years the partnership has developed two cookbooks: ‘Fit Food for Winners’ and ‘Fit Food Fast’ and countless resources for school teachers, sports teams and families.
A major undertaking has been the creation of nutrition advice sheets, which provide nutritional information for over 40 sports, as well as general nutrition advice and food information.
Over one million nutrition advice sheets and resources have been shared with New Zealanders, teachers, parents, sports coaches and athletes.
Since 2016 Nestlé and AUT Millennium have combined their passion for food and physical activity and developed a new programme called ‘Schools Day Out’.
The programme is an extension of Nestlé’s Healthy Active Kids programme and is focused on providing low-decile school children, aged between six and 12, with the tools and knowledge to eat well and be active.
Schools Day Out provides school students the unique opportunity to learn vital water safety skills, while enjoying an action-packed day of physical activity and learning, at no cost to families or the school.
AUT Millennium Schools Programme Manager, Michelle Bryant, says the organisation believes all young New Zealanders should have the opportunity to be active and develop important life skills.
“Our team has created a programme that we hope is memorable for the kids because it is a lot of fun, but also educates and engages them in the areas of water safety, learn to swim and team work. We hope that the children who take part in the day leave us inspired and equipped to be safe in and around the water.”
On their day away from school, children will participate in rock climbing, kayaking and water safety, as well as enjoying team based activities which encourage problem solving.
A healthy lunch and snacks provide all the fuel the students need for the day, while putting into practice the healthy eating lessons they will have learnt as part of the Healthy Active Kids Programme.
Leabank Primary School Principal, Rex Maddren, is thrilled students have the opportunity to spend a day getting involved in such a wide range of activities.
“Considering so much learning is done in the classroom, we’re always looking for new ways to engage and motivate our students; being a lower decile school, it’s a rare opportunity for our kids to spend the day where some of our Olympic champions have trained while also experiencing activities they may not otherwise get a chance to enjoy.”
“Getting kids into the water to teach water safety, is a real challenge, logistically and financially, so taking our students to such a special place for a day of activities led by qualified instructors brings real benefits to our school community.”
There are plans to extend the Schools Day Out to allow schools around New Zealand the opportunity to experience the programme and learn vital developmental skills.
Country Manager and CEO of Nestlé New Zealand, Veronique Cremades, a mother of two boys, knows that getting kids involved in activities they enjoy is the best way to learn and she looks forward to seeing other schools take advantage of the opportunity.
“Parents need all the help they can get to encourage their children to be active and eat well. At Nestlé we want to create opportunities to enhance the quality of people’s lives and I hope the experiences the children have on their day out is something they can share with the rest of their family.”
Since January 2016, six Auckland schools have experienced the programme and there are plans for a further eight in 2017.
The programme has gained both local and national recognition for its importance and highlights the desire by AUT Millennium to connect with others to achieve its mission.
Not only do children learn crucial skills, such as swimming and eating healthy, they are encouraged to challenge their fears, have fun, laugh and return to school inspired.
Schools Day Out is a programme which its taking the opportunity to help the next generation of New Zealanders be the best they can be.