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The Ministry of Health has welcomed Sport New Zealand’s new $68 million Tū Manawa fund for community-led play, active recreation and sport. The new fund will enable initiatives that will support and grow the mental wellbeing for individuals, families and whānau and communities to adapt and thrive after their lives have been disrupted by COVID-19.
Tū Manawa, which opens today, will fund new or existing projects or programmes for tamariki and rangatahi. In its first year, the fund is focused on high deprivation communities, where physical activity levels have been impacted by COVID-19.
Physical activity is important for both physical and mental health, and in organised forms plays an important role in bringing communities together.
Mental Health and Addiction Acting Deputy-Director General, Toni Gutschlag said “For most people, mental health support starts with family, whānau and friends. The networks and groups we belong to (such as marae, sport and recreation clubs, arts groups, playcentres, churches and peer support groups) play a vital role in helping us find a positive path through challenging times.
“Investing in play, active recreation and sport for tamarki and rangatahi will help strengthen and protect communities, and it’s great to see Sport New Zealand channelling funds directly into communities.”
Funds like Tū Manawa strengthen and enable community-led responses and solutions and put decisions into the hands of communities – who are best placed to know what is going to work to meet their needs. Grassroots approaches to identifying and responding to needs is vital to ensure resources will hit the spot in terms of meeting wellbeing needs.
Director of the Suicide Prevention Office, Carla na Nagara said, “The social aspect of being part of a team or group is fantastic for wellbeing. Sport provides a path for fast-tracking friendships – providing important social networks and opportunities to connect and have fun together.
“Coaches, managers, leaders and teammates are really well placed to be able to reach out if they think someone needs support, as well as to build self-esteem, confidence and positivity of team members. And the benefits of staying physically active, de-stressing and helping to get a better night sleep are fundamental aspects of a good mental wellbeing routine.
“While mental health services play an important role when someone needs support, it’s even more important that we concentrate on keeping people well – and funds like this are an investment into doing just that,” said Carla na Nagara.