Healthy Nature Healthy People Initiative Launched in Invercargill

With help from Healthy Families Invercargill, the launch of the Department of Conservation’s Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative proved to be a massive success.

April 2, 2016

MAD run

Lack of time, lack of space, the encroaching nature of technology - lots of factors are contributing to an environment where children just don’t spend as much time playing outside and interacting with nature as generations past.

One of the focus areas for Healthy Families Invercargill is getting people active more often, something that fits well with DOC and the global Healthy Nature Healthy People movement.

DOC wants to see New Zealanders using their natural spaces, including urban parks, beaches, national parks, seas, lakes and rivers to maintain and improve our health and wellbeing, as well as gain a better understanding and appreciation for our environment.

With Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie volunteering Invercargill as the ideal place to launch the initiative, Healthy Families Invercargill created a new working group which included DOC, Sarah Dowie’s office, Sport Southland and the Invercargill City Council’s Parks and Reserves department.

Led by the events team at Sport Southland, the lead provider for Healthy Families Invercargill, a bold plan was developed to create a new event to launch the Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative and showcase the beauty and accessibility of our natural environment.

The M.A.D (Mud, Adventure, Discovery) Day Out, hosted by Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, was designed as a free, fun family event based at the Sandy Point nature reserve on the outskirts of Invercargill.

It included obstacles, a bush run/walk and a very popular mud run.

The event was also designed to showcase healthy messaging.

It was smoke and alcohol free, no deep fried food or fizzy drink was available for sale and families were encouraged to bring their own picnics and enjoy a typically lovely Invercargill autumn day.

Exceeding all expectations, more than 800 people took part in the inaugural event and almost all had a smile on their face as they made it down the water slide which marked the finish line.

A third of those surveyed had never been to Sandy Point before, an area which offers a range of outdoor activities, from bush walks to mountainbiking and golf.

Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive, with several organisations signalling their enthusiasm to help make the event a regular fixture on the calendar.

While M.A.D Day Out was a huge success, the real work involved in creating lasting systems change continues.

Healthy Families Invercargill continues to work with DOC on ways the two organisations can support the Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative in the future, along with organisations like the ICC’s Parks and Reserves department and Sport Southland.

- Nathan Burdon, Communications and Engagement Advisor, Healthy Families Invercargill

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