Z’s Good in the Hood programme helps rangatahi and tamariki in New Plymouth get active
Community September 14, 2023
For three hours every Friday morning, young people with a range of physical, intellectual and sensory impairments converge on New Plymouth's Gymnastica Gym Club to take part in the Moveable programme, which has been supported through Z Energy’s (Z) Good in the Hood initiative over the years.
The Moveable programme helps the kids express themselves and build their confidence by teaching fundamental movement skills like gymnastics, aerobics, running, climbing, jumping, dancing, and even ball skills.
Moveable is administered by Sport Taranaki and staff are encouraged to pop in and help out with the programme when they can. That’s how Sport Taranaki Event and Volunteer Lead Terry Long came across it and saw the potential to support it through the Mellowpuff Trust, a charity Terry and his wife Tanya set up in honour of their daughter Melissa who passed away at age 17.
Melissa’s final wish was to repay the support by using the funds in her bank account to assist other Taranaki children who were going through similar adversity, a credo the Mellowpuff Trust continues to this day.
The Trust supports a number of children on an individual basis, and Terry says that Moveable is a great way to extend their reach to even more children.
Each Moveable session has a specific skill focus with activities to help practice the skill. In addition to learning physical motor skills the programme helps develop social skills as the young people interact.
Terry highlights that it’s really about getting the kids into a space where they can participate, where otherwise they may not get that opportunity.
“We have people participating in the Moveable programme who have a range of physical, cognitive, and developmental disabilities – some of those needs are invisible. The kids can get left out sometimes because they have specific needs. Through Moveable they get to express themselves through gym sports, to test their confidence in a safe environment that ensures positive participation,” he says.
Terry was sold from the moment he first saw the Moveable programme in action.
“I had never heard about the Moveable programme, but our Trust was set up to support young people who are going through adversity in their lives. So, when I found out about this Moveable programme, which already had around 70 to 80 tamariki and rangatahi taking part, I decided to go along to see it in action for myself. As soon as I got there, I thought – ‘Wow!’ – I was so impressed with it.” he says.
At that time, the Moveable programme was mostly user-pays, although there was some sponsorship to help reduce the cost. Terry spoke with local Z retailers John and Jacinta Hurley, who offered him the opportunity to use Good in the Hood funding to go towards the programme’s support person. This support has since continued through current Retailer, Eilish Hurley.
Terry emphasises that the support from Z helps to keep the cost down for the families involved – they have enough to worry about without worrying about the financial aspect.
“Everything we do with our money is targeted towards going back to the community that it came from. The Moveable programme fits in so well with Z’s Good in the Hood philosophy, which is about helping communities to get out there and do some more magic.
“These kids are trying things out in their own space, in their own time, and within their own ability. They're not judged, they're just kids being kids. It's powerful stuff.”
If you’d like to learn more about Mellowpuff Charitable Trust and how you can support them, head to https://www.mellowpufftrust.co.nz/