A new initiative is helping the South Asian community get active and lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and it’s all thanks to funding provided by Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation for YMCA’s Jumpstart programme.

“The sport and recreation system has to think of other ways of doing things to engage with different populations.” That’s the message from Veronica Thompson of Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation.

With research indicating New Zealand’s Indian population has some of the highest rates of diabetes in the country, the need for targeted health programmes has never been more urgent.

Earlier this year YMCA’s Jumpstart diabetes health programme received funding from Aktive for a pilot programme at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland. The 10 week programme sought to engage Auckland’s Indian population in exercise, nutrition seminars and health education – all with the aim of helping diabetics and pre-diabetics lead healthier lives.

Veronica, the Māori engagement and priority populations manager at Aktive, says a participant focussed approach was key to Aktive’s decision to fund the pilot programme.

“Typically people who are involved in the sport and recreation sector will create an initiative or programme and expect people to come to them.”

Veronica says one of the drawcards of the South Asian targeted Jumpstart programme, and a large reason why Aktive decided to support the pilot, is that it sought to go where the population is, as opposed to inviting the population into somewhere they may not be as culturally comfortable.

“The programme engaged the Indian population in their own community context – it was a good example of an outreach approach not often seen in the sport and recreation sector.”

The ultimate vision for Aktive, says Veronica, is to make Auckland the world’s most active city. A key part of achieving that vision is ensuring sports and recreation activities are accessible to everyone and are extended into multiple communities.

Jumpstart has been operating at 16 YMCAs across New Zealand for two years, starting in Auckland and Hamilton, and launching in Wellington and Invercargill at the beginning of 2017. Common results for programme participants include weight loss, lowered blood pressure, improved mental health and confidence about a healthy future. So far the programme has helped over 600 people. 

The proven success of the Jumpstart programme, coupled with the backing of reputable organisations such as YMCA Auckland and programme co-founders Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd, meant Aktive had the confidence to support a roll-out of the pilot programme in a more targeted setting.

Aktive provided funding for the programme through the Targeted Populations and Development Fund and administers the fund in Auckland on behalf of Sport New Zealand.

60 people participated in the first South Asian Jumpstart diabetes health programme. Subject to further funding, YMCA Auckland hopes to roll-out the targeted health programme to other community centres in the near future.  

Find out more about the Jumpstart programme by visiting jumpstartprogramme.co.nz>