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Mitre 10 Helping Hands supports Kiwi kids' playtime - third school playground complete

15 July 2022

 

  • Gisborne’s Te Hapara School is the third school to have a new playground build by Mitre 10’s Helping Hands Project Playground initiative, along with Colwill School in West Auckland and South New Brighton School in Christchurch.
  • Sport New Zealand research highlights the importance of play for children’s cognitive, physical and social skills – tamariki who engage in more than seven hours a week of active play have higher happiness levels.
  • The call for Project Playground submissions last year generated over 550 responses – almost half the primary schools in New Zealand – looking for help to improve their play spaces.

 

The happy and excited faces of Te Hapara School tamariki exploring their new school playground show the value of quality play spaces at primary schools and why they are an essential part of the learning environment. The playground is one of three built by Mitre 10 Helping Hands this year, in Gisborne, Christchurch and West Auckland, with more in the pipeline. 

Play allows children to experience fun, joy and laughter, while developing and practicing important life skills. Tamariki who engage in more than seven hours a week of active play have higher happiness levels, according to Sport New Zealand research into the effects of physical activity on children. The report also revealed that the amount of time devoted to play decreases as tamariki get older, from an average of 7.52 hours a week for five-year-olds to 5.54 hours a week at age eleven. 

With Covid disruption impacting children’s efforts and ability to socialise, creating spaces that encourage and inspire active play is more important for their wellbeing than ever.

Scott Mackenzie, Play System Lead at Sport New Zealand, says play is vital to physical and cognitive development, with the physical environment a key part of ensuring tamariki experience quality play outcomes.

“The way tamariki move on, with and through playgrounds and their surrounding environments contributes to their wellbeing in so many ways, and they start to develop a sense of where they are in relation to these spaces. These play experiences help shape who they are, now and into the future.”

Mitre 10 worked with leading local design and installation company Playground People to ensure the playgrounds would cater for the youngest tamariki at each school to the oldest, with the aim of keeping children engaged in active play throughout their primary school years.

The call for Project Playground submissions last year generated over 550 responses – almost half the primary schools in New Zealand – looking for help to improve their play spaces. 

The three playgrounds, at Colwill School in West Auckland, South New Brighton School in Christchurch, and Te Hapara School in Gisborne, will benefit the communities around them, as well as the school children.  

With aroha one of its core values, Te Hapara School students pride themselves on the aroha they have for each other within their school community, and it is in their communal spaces where this really shines. As the Year 5 and 11 ‘Saltie Soarer Leaders’ from Te Hapara School wrote in their Project Playground submission:

‘Lots of community groups use our kura after school and during the weekends. We also welcome families to play on our playgrounds too because there are no exciting council playgrounds within walking distance of most of our attending families and their friends. We believe strongly in trust and believe that if our kura is always buzzing with happy people outside of school hours then less damage is likely to result from boredom. We promote this value and trust everyone in our community. It would be great if we could feel proud of what we have to share too.’

Jules Lloyd-Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at Mitre 10, said the response from primary schools looking to improve their play facilities was “overwhelming” and that Project Playground would likely continue once the first three builds were complete. 

“We absolutely knew there was a need, but not how great that need was in reality. With play being such an important part of children’s development, building great play spaces will impact the whole community, not just the school. We want to inspire Kiwi to love where they live, work, and play, and a great playground can be the cornerstone for the entire school to become a play space for the surrounding community.” 

Mitre 10 Gisborne supported the build at Te Hapara School in Gisborne, Mitre 10 MEGA Westgate supported the playground build at Colwill School in West Auckland, and Mitre 10 MEGA Ferrymead supported the build at South New Brighton School in Christchurch.