It was great to see another awesome event for the kids here in Hawke's Bay this week, with the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon coming to Hastings. It was a massive event, with kids coming from miles around.
Now more than ever, with the rise of physical and mental health issues, it's vital we try to get kids off to a healthy start in life. It's great to see a corporate group, that isn't promoting junk food, having the initiative to drive an event like this for our kids and schools.
As far as developing healthy habits in our society, and providing a platform for engaging in sports, you couldn't do much better than getting the kids confident in swimming, biking and running.
So to have a fun event like this, where kids can just give it a go, and not be worried about whether they win or what placing they get, is fantastic.
Some will say, c'mon we need a winner, and the competitive kids want to know where they finished. Well it's not about that, those competitive kids are already partaking in plenty of exercise.
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If the idea of this event is to encourage all to give it a go, in a non-threatening environment, then not having winners and placings is a great thing, and something other sports could take a lesson from.
Athletics for instance sometimes shoots itself in the foot, turning kids off the sport by having awards and results at too young an age, before the kids are old enough to get their head around it.
They don't need to be handing out first, second, and third placings for the little tots on a casual club day, it just side-tracks the kids from the pure joy of running.
Yes, having results for the little kids that are quick is no problem, but even they don't really need it, but it is definitely an issue for the little ones that aren't so fast, and will just turn many away from an activity they actually really need – running.
Ideally we would have all young kids learning to run. But if they are embarrassed or scared of giving it a go, and they can't understand why they aren't getting a certificate at the end of every race like the others, then that is pretty sad. And getting put off running from a young age, can have a profound and long-term impact … how often have you heard adults say, 'yeah nah, I don't really run, it's not my thing'.
So the fun activity of the Weet-Bix TRYathlon is great, a pretty easy and friendly event to encourage kids into giving it a go, and breaking down the fear of exercise.
Running obviously underpins just about every sport, but similarly getting some early confidence on the bike, and to swim, opens up the doors to so many potential sport and exercise options for them later in life.
And even just overcoming the fear of turning up to a big event is a good thing, better to get used to it at a young age, than trying to front up for the first time when you are older.
It's definitely a good event for Weet-Bix, and cynics will say it's all about brand promotion for their marketing machine. But who cares even if it is, good on them - it's great for our kids and community too.
Hopefully we will continue to see more businesses getting behind sport and health activities, especially in communities where we see rising numbers of drugs and gang related issues.
Long may the event last. Activities like this are great for the kids, especially in this day and age, and it goes to show that sponsorship in sport doesn't just have to happen with giants like the All Blacks. It can be a successful partnership at a regional community level too, successful for the sponsor and for the kids that need the support too.
For some they may well be inspired to enter more such events and love the competition of triathlons, for some it will help them learn to train properly for their own sport of choice - while for others less athletically inclined, it might just give them the confidence to know they can get involved in an activity,
It was great to see all the happy kids riding around the Mitre 10 Park Hawke's Bay. They'll all take a bit of confidence into their next challenge, and some for sure will get really inspired and one day be attacking full-length triathlons all around the country, and world.
• Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and a lecturer in sports science at EIT.