The Pikia whānau of Invercargill is taking control of its health and wellness by participating in Jumpstart, a diabetes health management programme that was launched a year ago at the Tay Street YMCA. 

When about 30 of the Pikia whānau moved back to Invercargill 18 months ago, they collectively decided to create their own family weight loss challenges, and since then they’ve made significant progress. 

Moana Pikia says the whānau had struggled with weight for years and knew it was time to do something about it.

“We just had a big desire to get more active and encourage our kids to be healthier as well,” she says.

It was two other whānau members who took the reigns and went looking for an activity that everyone could do together. They found Jumpstart in February 2017 when, “one of our sisters was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and we jumped on board to support her,” says Moana.

Jumpstart is a successful national initiative providing exercise, nutrition and lifestyle education for people with diabetes, or those who are pre-diabetic.  It was founded in 2015 by YMCA Auckland and healthcare company Pharmaco (NZ) Ltd and has so far helped almost 1,000 people.

The programme runs once a week for 10 weeks, with participants given full access to the gym at any other time. There are four Jumpstart programmes a year in Invercargill, and at 13 other YMCAs across the country.

Six members of the Pikia whānau joined the first programme and the momentum is gathering because with over 60 members: when one gets involved, others from different generations want to take part too. 

Whānau who have participated have experienced many benefits including weight loss, better fitness, confidence and more enthusiasm to stay active and healthy.

“The support from YMCA staff like Mila, Suvi and Brodie has been excellent. We never felt on our own. All the staff go out to their way to say hello and help where needed,” says Moana.

“The programme was not just about losing weight and getting fit, but education around nutrition and exercise - it was invaluable and can be easily transferred into our whānau.”

Recreation and well-being manager at Southland YMCA Dave Cheyne comments: “the Pikia whānau has been fantastic in the Jumpstart programme; they bring a sense of comradery and community with them.”

The most important lesson from Jumpstart for the Pikia whānau was goal setting, to help members understand where they were at, where they wanted to be and what needed to be done to achieve their goal.

 “It was really informative and different from other things we had done. It showed us what we needed to be doing and how to change our lifestyles and eating habits,” says Moana.

The Pikia whānau continues to encourage other family members to join the gym and reach their goals. Jumpstart has the philosophy of not only helping physical health, but also how people think about their health. Moana comments: “If your mind isn’t in the right place, your body won’t be able to be on board.”

The Pikia whānau now uses what they learned through Jumpstart in their everyday lives. They continue to use the YMCA basketball stadium on Sundays for group sessions and are already planning another athletic activity for the whole whānau.

Jumpstart operates at 14 YMCAs across the country and started in Auckland and Hamilton, and then launched in Wellington and Invercargill at the beginning of 2017.

Common results from the programme include weight loss, lower waist measurements and blood pressure, improved mental health and confidence about a healthy future. The weekly sessions help get people moving, no matter their size. For people who are pre-diabetic, exercise and lifestyle programmes, like Jumpstart, can help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

For more information on the Jumpstart programme and how to enrol visit>