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Just Play launches in Wellington

Windley School in Porirua is the first New Zealand school to adopt the award-winning OFC Just Play Programme which will be rolled out over the next eight weeks.
Special Olympics New Zealand has run a previous curriculum of the programme, which uses football as a tool to communicate important social messages and lessons to children, enhancing their development and positively influencing their wider communities.
OFC Head of Social Responsibility Franck Castillo says it is exciting to see New Zealand schools adopting a programme which has seen so much success across Oceania.
“Just Play has been well received across a number of OFC Member Association nations and we believe it will be similarly embraced in New Zealand,” he says.
“OFC is delighted to be working with UNICEF NZ and New Zealand Football to make a change in the lives of young Kiwis.”
The programme is aimed at children aged 6-12 years old and is built around four key pillars; developing healthy lifestyles, social inclusion, gender equality and the protection of children.
UNICEF NZ Executive Director, Vivien Maidaborn, said of the New Zealand launch, “Harnessing the power of sport and play to educate children is a tried and tested method that delivers results. Just Play has already seen enormous success across the Pacific region and it is wonderful to now see it kicking off in schools here in New Zealand.
“As a sport-based programme, Just Play encourages active living, participation, teamwork and leadership. In parallel to this, children also learn about healthy eating, how to be inclusive, how to stay safe and how to look after themselves and others.
“Our collective goal is to see Just Play equipping children with the knowledge and skills to lead healthy and positive lives,” added Ms Maidaborn.
Rhys McKinley, Principal at Windley School, Porirua added, “We are thrilled to see our students participating in Just Play as it perfectly aligns with our school’s health curriculum around building and maintaining positive relationships, healthy living, working together and looking after ourselves and others.
“We are really excited to launch this innovative programme at Windley School. As educators, parents or caregivers, there is an onus on all of us to ensure our younger generations realise their rights to lead healthy and happy lives, by participating and contributing to their own and others’ health through programmes like Just Play.”
Just Play consists of four key objectives:
1. Reducing Non-Communicable Diseases – developing healthy eating behaviours and promoting regular physical activity including engaging in sport such as football
2. Gender equality – encouraging boys and girls to see each other as equals and develop opportunities for leadership
3. Inclusion – including children with disabilities and providing opportunities for communities to change their perceptions of children with disabilities
4. Child protection – developing children’s knowledge of ways to keep themselves safe, avoid danger and make positive decisions.
Since 2009 the OFC Just Play Programme has reached more than 210,000 children in 10 Pacific Island countries.
Coaches from Western Suburbs Soccer Club have been chosen to deliver the programme to Windley School in Porirua.
New Zealand Football’s Community Development Manager, Jamie Milne, added, “We are really pleased with the quality of the four coaches provided by the club. The coaches have shown keen interest and ability during the training phase and the club has a strong history of providing support to the schools of Porirua. We look forward to supporting the coaches, club and the school in the excellent Just Play programme in Porirua.”

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