Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: John Key: ambitious enough for web designers?

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  • WH,

    There are people at SPARC who know the differences between marketing and behaviour change, but I don't believe from what I have seen that they are either consulted or listened to during the implementation of these projects. I also suspect that SPARC lacks the resources to appropriately interrogate the evidence base behind some of these interventions.

    What are the differences between marketing and efforts to change behaviour?

    I hope that John Key is not against the idea of trying to improve lifestyles out of some overdeveloped aversion to social engineering. The Times reports that the Conservative Party is talking about Nudge, which I haven't read, but which seems interesting and a little disturbing at the same time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 786 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    Not to diss the folks at clicksuite too much but why make the most prominent feature signing up ? I want to play....

    That was my first reaction too and I didn't bother going any further. In selling anything that first instant impression is what counts. With this site you are made to jump through some of the web designer’s hoops before you are allowed into their playground. I could put up with this if I had a need to visit the site but in this case the need is all SPARC's. They want the traffic and the kids to get engaged.

    Why not have something completely enticing on the front page... like a prize, like... I don't know .. a cool training book mimicking the training regime of say Dan Carter or Valerie Vili...that gets posted to you and when you have filled out the diary after a few weeks you post it back and go in the draw to win something really cool like... I don’t know …an afternoon training with Dan Carter or Valerie Vili and the whole thing is tied into 'What Now' (is that still running?) or some other kids programme with the winners shown training with their idol.... or some other of I'm sure hundreds of good ideas that could work. But it has to happen the moment they arrive at the site.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    or some other of I'm sure hundreds of good ideas that could work. But it has to happen the moment they arrive at the site.

    Sounds good Bob. What do Sanitarium Weetbix do? They do something right.There is a lot of support for their annual run.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    What do Sanitarium Weetbix do?

    Avoid paying any income tax?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    30 minutes compulsory activity every day at school - hacky sack would do.

    I don't know if things have changed dramatically in the last ten years, but when I was at primary school we did have PE four or five times a week. I remember this well because of the special and abiding hatred I had for it. Same thing at secondary school: compulsory PE three times a week - and, yes, that's run-around-the-block, get-into-the-unheated-swimming-pool-at-eight-thirty-am PE, not indoor health lessons - for the first two years. Activity at school is not the problem.

    In fact, I'd say school sports are often detrimental because they turn kids off exercise by making them associate it with sports they don't enjoy and aren't necessarily very good at. Team sports are hell if you're not good at them. Which isn't to say kids shouldn't do PE or be encouraged to exercise, but more enforced participation is not going to magically make more people do sports. Probably the opposite.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    In my Brockworth Pl flat as a yoof, we knew of the tax status of religions & cults.

    The Chruch of the "Brown Bottle & the Holy Spirits" was born of a weekend drinking.

    The idea being we pool our money to pay for booze minus tax = more booze!.

    Like all cults it collapsed (that same evening) as after the initial whip around for cash for a keg the B'stard with the car took the $100 and got pissed in town.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    If this is the case then you do have to wonder why Sparc needs to spend those millions of dollars on research, proof-of-concept and technology development instead of just copying an already existing successful model.

    Isn't it funny that this same thread discusses Trade-Me versus eBay. I do wonder how much richer Sam M would have become if he had blindly copied an already existing successful model.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Stanley Pointen,

    I'm with Key on this. What devious evaluation methodology will SPARC use to get the big tick against this KPI? Websites will not get kids off their arses. End of story.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I was one of a small group of people (working under the auspices of the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity) who have held two Sci/Med conferences on obesity, one at the School of Population Health, the other at AUT.

    SPARC's approach to changing habits through social marketing and the use of purpose built stand alone websites rather than using existing p2p networks out there is of particular concern to me - in the past 3 years I have exchanged more than 40 pieces of correspondence with SPARC on these issues. "We're interested" they say "we're planning to fly you down here for a planning session" they say, "send us more of your ideas" they say, but so far nothing has happened.

    Social marketing is a fine tool, but it is useless if the responsibility for this is put into the hands of advertising agencies; avertising agencies are there to sell products which is an entirely different thing than altering behaviour. One involves changing consumer choices, the other involves altering specific habits and activities. These things are not even related, if you really look at what drives people to make choices.

    the question is whether it will lead to a measurable outcome of the sort SPARC is supposed to produce (increased activity, better diet).

    Our keynote speaker at the first conference, Prof Louise Baur is Professor of Paediatrics & Child Health at the U of Sydney, as well as co-chair of the International Task Force's Working Group on Childhood Obesity - in other words a leading authority on the subject. One of her most salient points was that it is pointless to lecture anyone under 14 on food choices or nutrition as they do not make any of the food choices.

    More effective would be a program to introduce food appreciation in a school setting - as most children need to try a new food between 10 and 20 times before they can make a decision as to whether they like it, and as children are many, many times more likely to try a food with their peers than with their family. These programs are even more effective if the chidren are growing (some of ) the fruit and vegetables they try.

    The Otago Children's Nutrition Survey paints a grim picture of paediatric nutrition in this country: deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, calcium are frighteningly common. Telling children what's good for them will do very little, but getting them to develop an actual liking for nutritious food is much more effective.

    30 minutes compulsory activity every day at school - hacky sack would do.

    Yes, this is true and a great idea. The emphasis needs to be taken off sports (which is not a very good vehicle for either teaching fitness or delivering an actual workout) and put on more physically intense, non competitive activity. Also the focus needs to be taken off weight and put on fitness,

    I'm also not knowledgeable enough to know if a whole of Government approach is being taken to child health, looking at housing, food, transport, sport and physical activity, health, and media/television/internet etc. I know the moves of the Government to tackle bad foods in schools etc takes on some of these issues. It is, predictably, savaged by National as an act of the "nanny state".

    In the wake of the two conferences described above, I was keen to see some kind of integrated program delivered in schools.

    The "walking school buses" that have sprung up around Auckland are brilliant, and it's in this everyday activity that real life long fitness habits are to be found.

    Hacky-sack, bean bag catch, dance, tai-chi - any of these would be better than the sports. Sports eliminate the children who need exercise the most, and almost all sports bypass the specific muscle weaknesses that are becoming more and more common.

    Activity that can target 1) balance 2) propioception 3) endurance 4) core strength 5) abductor and adductor strength and 6) hand eye coordination would be much more useful, and when it came time to move into sports (about 8 or 9 years old) to have achieved these specific things would produce better athletes who will be less prone to injury.

    I have been trying for nearly three years to get SPARC to look at a proposal I have to use existing p2p networks in a classroom setting to encourage physical activity and to integrate that activity into their lessons. For instance a class of 10 year olds in one town could take an page on Facebook or Myspace and each child's resting heart rate, HR after 100 metres spring and time it takes for HR to return to normal could be posted. Averages could be calculated and posted as well, neatly integrating mathematics, physiology and physical fitness.

    This data could be compared to another similar class in any part of NZ, and a timetable of when to repeat the exercise and compare data could be set. In this kind of environment (class setting, school time, collective participation, teacher supervision) it would be possible to integrate other health information about tobacco, alcohol, drugs, sexual health as appropriate to the ages of the classes. This would be both cheaper to deliver than constructing a website, and it would ensure participation.

    It also seems to me that the incentive programs built on an altruistic theme would be greatly appealing to children. For instance, a class of 12 year olds all run/jog or walk and every km a child does could result in a small donation to the SPCA, UNICEF, OXFAM, Starship - whatever the class decides - this donation could be made by a sponsoring company in exchange for that publicity. People will work harder for others than they will for themselves. This is counter-intuitive perhaps, but it's true, and it's most true of the very young and idealistic. Tell a child to run or they'll get heart disease and they will look at you like you're crazy, tell them if they run they might win an ipod and they'll shrug and tune you out - unless they like running already, but tell them if they run the SPCA can save a puppy or a kitten then even the most sedentary will start moving.

    In fact, I'd say school sports are often detrimental because they turn kids off exercise by making them associate it with sports they don't enjoy and aren't necessarily very good at. Team sports are hell if you're not good at them. Which isn't to say kids shouldn't do PE or be encouraged to exercise, but more enforced participation is not going to magically make more people do sports. Probably the opposite.

    YES! I completely agree - so many people are put off physical activity for life because of the way sports is presented at the only form of physical activity. There are many other ways to deliver phsical activity without involving competitive sports. More joy, more laughing, less competition. Also we need to be integrating academic lessons with physical activity.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Lots of good ideas there Dyan.

    I agree with you that sports tend to target those that are already doing exercise. I know a bunch of kids that are playing two or three winter sports, they get an hour exercise up to ten times a week. Other kids, hardly any at all.

    There are sports-related activities which can explore that list of things more than others. Soccer for example, is not a high user of the upperbody, and has very little hand-eye coordination, though I'm sure it's good in other areas. Ice hockey is tremendous for balance (as is figure skating, and roller-blading etc), and hand eye coordination. Of course, it's much easier for a family, or a school to kick around a few soccer balls than get themselves to an ice rink and all geared up.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    There are sports-related activities which can explore that list of things more than others. Soccer for example, is not a high user of the upperbody, and has very little hand-eye coordination, though I'm sure it's good in other areas. Ice hockey is tremendous for balance (as is figure skating, and roller-blading etc), and hand eye coordination

    For me it's a chicken and egg thing - soccer, ice hockey, figure skating - these are all things that should only be taken on once all the primary muscles, reactions, propriceptors, core strength, thigh strength and all groups of abdominal muscles - and all the joints of the body - have been trained to do the biomechanically correct thing. And the easiest way to do that is to take all the sports out of the equation and leave it over to specifically designed, non competitive, joy, humour and information filled play for those first 8 or 9 formative years. You can play at playing the games, but keep it informal, keep it unstructured and pay attention to the technique, not the score.

    It is also only in this form of unconstructed play that you will find any leeway to develop any fancy new techniques (you can bet the bicycle kick was developed during a non competitive soccer game) as structured games call for a strictcly administered set of rules where there is no room for playing around and being silly. Or incredible.

    There are specific physical skills that have been taken by all other previous generations as a matter of course - that are not being achieve d by the current generation in childhood. These include running, tumbling and - this is hard to believe but true - even sitting upright unsupported. This is becoming difficult for some children of normal ability, because they are so weak.

    Even in previous generations lifelong injuries (not to mention massive aversions) were instilled in kids by introducing sports too early. To introduce sports like the ones you described to children with underdeveloped balance, proprioception, core strength, endurance, thigh muscles, hand eye coordination is to doom them to certain injury. So much better to practice hand eye coordination with a bean bag instead of a hockey puck.

    And if the biomechanics of running, tumbling, catching, throwing etc are all learned in specific, correct ways, and all the muscle groups are brought up to a tested standard before the activity is taken on, then there is much less chance of injury, burnout or developing a lifelong bad technique at a specific sport. You will find more athletes in your general population this way also.

    Another thing I forgot too mention above - the "lifestyle ambassadors" SPARC chooses - a nice idea perhaps, but the wrong ambassadors. They choose sports people - not inspiring at all, sports people are already fit. When I was growing up a had a younger brother with cerebral palsy - he died before he grew up, from weakness, from the bad physical therapy advice that was given in that day and age (the 1960s) - god, they told people to bind their CP children's limbs in fibreglass and velcro splints, to counter the muscle spasms - it couldn't have been worse advice. How painful, how counter productive, how weakening. My Mum's agonised instinct that this was absolutely the wrong thing was correct, but she was too cowed by medical science to ignore their directives. It destroyed her when she found out that they had been just plain wrong, and their advice - however well meaning -
    and her following it - had been part of what caused Tom's death.

    Hinewehi Mohi who founded the music therapy centre here is my hero.

    But Tom's suffering at being trapped in a body that simply wouldn't work made me far more conscious of what a precious resouce physical ability is, how not to be squandered, how much it is a gift more than something we should take for granted. When someone dear to me but lazy used to complain he didn't like to walk I suggested to him rather acidly that maybe he'd be lucky and wind up in a wheelchair one day. He never complained (to me anyway) about walking again.

    So I suggested to SPARC that maybe a better ambassador than a physicially lucky athlete might perhaps be someone achieving their best with a disabiility - whether CP, amputees, etc. There is much to be learned by the example of those who excell with less than us, rather than those who are professial athletes. Good idea they said but I don't think they have changed their focus from sports people at all.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Excellent posts, Dyan. Not a sporty person myself, but I do like physical stuff and I reckon the key is having fun. I played hacky sack, French cricket, ordinary cricket and soccer with my kids in the backyard (bigger than most), occasional bush walking and always spent the summer at the river and the beach boogy boarding, rope swinging, diving, climbing trees. Volleyball for fun is another good one. Used to have parties centred around volleyball and hacky sack - they're cheap activities, alot of fun and work up a great appetite for a barby afterwards.

    Neither of my boys play competitive sport anymore, but they're not fat either. I also kept them well away from fast food outlets & fizzy until social pressure from their peers having birthday parties at McD's etc got too hard to negotiate.

    Just going for a walk after dinner can be a good, shared activity especially if you pick somewhere nice to go.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

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