Free community-based programme improving whaanau health and wellbeing

Latest News 24 January 2020 |Green Prescription Active Families, a community-based programme delivered by Otara Health on behalf of Counties Manukau Health (CM Health), is having a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of families living in South Auckland.

The one-year-long free programme – delivered in Otara, Mangere, Manurewa and Papakura – supports children aged five to 13 years and their families to lead healthier and more active lifestyles through whaanau-based nutrition education, physical activity and lifestyle programmes.

“Recent reports showed that 80% of families surveyed noticed positive changes in their child’s quality of life,” says Maddi Schmidt, Otara Health Family Based Services Team Leader.

“Most of the families that have graduated also have seen huge benefits in their child’s confidence levels and the development in their sports skills and abilities.” 

Children are referred to the Active Families programme mostly through their doctor, teacher, or school nurse who identified they could benefit from it - but families can also self-refer.  An assessment is carried out on the child before starting the programme and when they finish.

“At the core of it is the support of whaanau; so a parent, caregiver or sibling over the age of 16 years must attend with the child. Active Families introduces whaanau to fun regular group sessions that include a variety of games, indoor and outdoor sports and activities that they can enjoy together in their neighbourhood and are able to incorporate into their life.

“Parent workshops, healthy meals cooking classes (wise kai), education on BMI and label reading as well as simple advice and simplifying the language we use are important elements of the programme.

“One thing that came across strongly is that families are really connecting with their children – sometimes it is the only time they have to be together as a family,” says Ms Schmidt.

Clinton Bishop first heard about Active Families when his wife took their son Trez to their family doctor with asthma and, after taking his measurements, the doctor talked about how Trez could benefit from making changes in his lifestyle and referred the family with a Green Prescription to go onboard with Active Families.

“I found it excellent. My wife and I juggled it between our busy worklife and were there to support our son. I was pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of the staff and how welcoming the rest of the families were. Trez loved it straight away. It was never a commitment; it was something we looked forward to,” says Mr Bishop.

“We try to apply what we’ve learned in our own home environment and even share that knowledge with family and friends. When we do grocery shopping we read the labels together because now we actually understand what they mean. Trez makes his own decisions about what to buy now that he knows what is classed as healthy and not so healthy.

“My son has gained a lot of knowledge, is now on the path to becoming healthy and has become more active; he plays squash and tennis,” says Mr Bishop.

For more information on Active Families, contact Maddi Schmidt on 09 274 8355 or

community green prescription staying active otara health

Less than a minute to read Communications Team

Last modified: