Health researchers are calling for low decile school students to have more access to organised sporting events following a new study showing the benefit of their participation.
The results of the University of Auckland and National Institute for Health Innovation research which analysed perceptual data from more than 2,400 New Zealand parents, found families from lower socio-economic areas were more likely to report that their child's self-esteem had improved - following their participation in the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon series*.
The study led by Professor Chris Bullen from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at Auckland University found that parents were more likely to see signs of improved self-esteem amongst their children after participating in the TRYathlon. The impact was further pronounced for those children who were participating in their first TRYathlon, who had trained for the event or had three or more supporters attend the event with them.
Spokesperson for the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon Nigel Chenery says the world’s largest U16 triathlon series has introduced thousands of New Zealand children to organised sport, in a positive environment which encourages them to lead active lifestyles.
The triathlon which is now in its 28th year has grown in popularity with 36,000 kids expected to take part throughout the country.
Chenery says demand is so great for the South Auckland event that a second mid-week event has been created to accommodate the thousands of kids in the area wanting to participate.
He says the Weet-Bix TRYathlon Foundation works to meet the growing demand from children in low decile areas by providing subsidised entries and partners with local community groups and organisers to help with equipment.
Chenery says in South Auckland alone, the Foundation along with Counties Manukau Sport will be providing hundreds of subsidised entries and bikes for local school students.
“It's fantastic to be able to offer this opportunity to the South Auckland community. This event started with 500 participants in 2009, and this year we expect to have over 3,000 children take part across both events,” he says.
Along with the establishment of a second South Auckland and additional Wellington event, the company has created a new introductory event for six-year-olds, who are too young to take part in the TRYathlon.
The new Splash & Dash event will be run at 16 TRYathlons this summer and will see budding TRYathletes, complete a 50-metre swim followed by a 1500 metre run.