West Auckland students are leading the way in trialling Aiga Jam sessions in their school environments – and enjoying the benefits of being physically active and having fun at the same time.
Aiga Jam is a model initially started for families back in 2017 when Sport Waitākere was looking at options for engaging the Pasifika community in locally led recreation that all ages could participate in. The early sessions of Aiga Jam provided a genuinely family-oriented experience and environment, which later evolved to meet the needs of the community.
The programme was flexible and gave family members multiple activities to choose from including hip hop dance and traditional forms of Pasifika active recreation, such as Hulanesia and Siva Samoa, along with a kidzone for younger siblings.
Almost five years on, Sport Waitākere is trialling the model as part of Healthy Active Learning, a joint government initiative between Sport New Zealand and the Ministries of Health and Education to improve the wellbeing of tamariki through healthy eating and drinking and quality physical activity.
Healthy Active Learning Community Connector at Sport Waitākere, Christian Curtis, says it’s exciting to see the positive benefits of engaging tamariki in Aiga Jam for the first time.
“Thanks to funding from Sport New Zealand, we’ve been able to test this concept across school settings and the results to date have been extremely positive. The tamariki are engaged, enjoying the unique physical activity that Aiga Jam provides, and for many, it’s also a valuable opportunity to connect with elements of their culture.”
More than 250 of students and their whānau across St Mary’s (Avondale) and Chaucer School in Blockhouse Bay have participated in the 10 week long programme.
Feedback from the participating tamariki reinforces the many benefits enjoyed from the positive combination of culture, physical activity and fun.
"I liked making moves every week and putting them together and I also liked playing the games,” said one participant.
“I’ve learnt new difficult moves every Tuesday that are very hard. I have enjoyed Aiga jam and all the games you provide us,” added another.
The success of the original concept of Aiga Jam relied on partnership with community champions and partners to foster the locally led approach. This has remained a core element of the schools programme with support coming from F45 Henderson, who have supplied the trainers, and dance instructors from Freshmans Dance Crew.
After completion of the sessions, Sport Waitākere will evaluate the initiative for potential rollout to additional Healthy Active Learning schools in West Auckland.
Article added: Tuesday 13 December 2022