Avalon Park kids playing crop

Our vision: Lower Hutt – NZ’s healthiest people

Community voice influences healthier parks and sports grounds for Hutt tamariki

Creating parks and sports grounds that enable healthy food and drink choices was the aim of a submission led by Te Awakairangi Health Network to influence Hutt City Council’s Long Term Plan. By amplifying the experiences of park users and weaving this with the health expertise of Te Awakairangi Health Network, a compelling case to change how we manage food vendors on parks and sports grounds was presented.

Wainuio league gameWhen we think of parks and sports grounds we think of people, especially children, playing and being physically active. For many of Lower Hutt’s whānau that use our public recreation spaces they will also think of hot dogs, hot chips, ice creams and fizzy. This is because these are predominantly the food and drink choices currently available from the food vendors that hold contracts for our most used parks and sports grounds in Hutt City. 

Healthy Families Lower Hutt works alongside sports codes and clubs to create healthier environments for their players and supporters. Together we’re embedding water as the drink of choice and smokefree spaces while exploring healthier food options in the clubrooms. Many clubs and codes are showing not just leadership but tangible action in the environments that they control. The one part of their environment that they currently can’t control is what types of food vendors are on the parks and sports grounds during their games and fixtures.

Lucy Moore, Dietitian from Te Awakairangi Health Network says “We could provide the health perspective for why we need healthier options on parks and sport grounds in Lower Hutt. What gave the submission real impact was presenting this alongside the local evidence and support from park and sports ground users. This isn’t just health talking; it is those using the parks that are driving change.”

Healthy Families Lower Hutt strives to build connections between the different members of our community we work with and our prevention partners.

Bridget Allan, Chief Executive from Te Awakairangi Health Network says “The Healthy Families Lower Hutt team works across a range of systems and settings in Lower Hutt so they are well placed to help make connections and build relationships between their prevention partners and those wanting to lead change in their environments. It is through these relationships that Healthy Families Lower Hutt can ensure that the voice of the community is heard by key decision makers.”

The recommendations presented by Te Awakairangi Health Network in their submission will be considered at an upcoming Community Services Committee meeting.

The potential impact of working together in this way is more than just a healthier experience for the tens of thousands of people that use Hutt City Council parks and sports grounds each year. Changes from this action will reinforce to sports clubs and codes that leadership they have shown to make positive changes within their environments has been acknowledged and will be reflected by council as well.

Imagine if all our parks and sports grounds supported healthy food and beverage choices.